‘Butcher of Gujarat’, ‘epicentre of terrorism’: India, Pakistan trade barbs

Pakistan’s foreign minister called India’s prime minister the “Butcher of Gujarat” after his counterpart accused his country of being the “epicentre of terrorism” as the nuclear-armed neighbours engaged in a war of words Thursday at the United Nations.

The rivals have strained political ties, especially over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which was split between the two during Partition.

Since 1947, they have fought three wars and had several skirmishes.

New Delhi accuses Islamabad of harbouring militants who launch attacks on its soil, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left scores dead.

Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar on Thursday called Pakistan the “epicentre of terrorism”.

“My advice is to clean up your act and try to be good neighbour,” he told reporters.

“Hillary Clinton, during her visit to Pakistan, said that if you keep snakes in your backyard you can’t expect them to bite only your neighbours, eventually they will bite the people who keep them in the backyard.”

In response, Pakistani foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto said India sought to conflate Muslims and terrorists, in both countries.

He told Jaishankar that “Osama bin Laden is dead, (but) the Butcher of Gujarat lives and he is the prime minister of India”.

India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi was chief minister of the state of Gujarat when sectarian riots in 2002 left more than 1,000 people dead.

Modi has been accused of turning a blind eye to the violence, and until his election was denied entry to the US.

Bhutto said his country had lost far more lives to terrorism and that he himself was a victim, referring to his mother Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated by a suicide bomber in 2007.

“Why would we want our own people to suffer? We absolutely do not.”

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