Bilawal vows to take entire Kashmir, India says his comment 'far from reality'
Bilawal Zardari, son of slain former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has said his party would take back Kashmir from India, a swaggering assertion before his cheering political supporters that New Delhi dismissed on Saturday as 'far from reality'.india Updated: Sep 20, 2014 21:21 IST
Bilawal Zardari, son of slain former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has said his party would take back Kashmir from India, a swaggering assertion before his cheering political supporters that New Delhi dismissed on Saturday as “far from reality”.
Bilawal, who has announced plans to contest next general elections in 2018, heads the secular Pakistan People's Party (PPP) which officially wants good ties with India. His party has been trying to recoup since its crushing defeat in elections last year.
He made the comments before party workers in Multan on Friday, flanked by former Prime Ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Asharaf.
"I will take back Kashmir, all of it, and I will not leave behind a single inch of it because, like the other provinces, it belongs to Pakistan," Bilawal, 25, said.
His mother was twice elected as prime minister while his maternal grandfather Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who founded the PPP in 1967, also served as prime minister in 1970s.
Bilawal's father Asif Ali Zardari was Pakistan's president from 2008 to 2013.
Control of Kashmir, which has led to two of the three wars India and Pakistan fought since 1947, is principally split between the two countries, with a sparsely inhabited stretch of the Himalayan plateau called Aksai Chin also held by China.
Reacting to the PPP leader’s statement, India termed it "far from reality" and asserted the integrity and unity of the country was "non-negotiable".
"We are in the process of looking forward and looking forward does not mean that our borders will be changed,” foreign office spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, adding the comment took the two countries back to the past century.
“We made it very clear that as far as we are concerned, the integrity and unity of India is non-negotiable.”
In 2013, PPP leaders blamed threats the party received from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to be partly responsible for their election performance as the party could not hold election rallies for fear of terrorist attacks.
According to senior PPP leader, Sherry Rehman, the PPP is also considered one of the most vocal critics of the Taliban and has suffered as a result of its outspoken attitude. In the past, the TTP has attacked political rallies of the party.
Observers say that the PPP is now readying itself for elections and possibly it will take a less pro-India line as compared to its political opponents, the PML-N party headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
"The statement made by Bilawal Bhutto can be seen as pure rhetoric in some ways to put Sharif on the defensive," commented analyst Talat Masood. Masood says that the PPP has the best record when it comes to relations with India.
"There is a genuine desire to seek better ties.”
Others say that this may signal a policy shift. "But it is too early to make that comment," said Ayaz Chaudhry, who writes on political affairs.
Bilawal's comment on Kashmir 'far from reality': India
Meanwhile, India termed as "far from reality" comment of Zardari that his party will get back entire Kashmir from it and asserted the integrity and unity of the country was "non negotiable".
"We are in the process of looking forward and looking forward does not mean that our borders will be changed.
We made it very clear that as far as we are concerned, the integrity and unity of India is non negotiable," spokesperson in the external affairs ministry Syed Akbaruddin said.
He said the comment was "far from reality which takes us back into the past century".
(With inputs from PTI)