News Delhi: Former Law Minister and Rajya Sabha MP Ram Jethmalani’s objectionable reference to China as the “enemy” of both India and Pakistan left many squirming at the Pakistan’s High Commission’s official reception for the visiting Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
As reported by a leading daily, Jethmalani, during a party thrown by Pakistan High Commission for Khar yesterday night, called China an “enemy” of both countries in the presence of the Chinese Ambassador.
As if this was not enough, Rajya Sabha MP also made several politically incorrect references in his speech, including one to Khar’s beautiful photograph published in the media.
Clearly, the incident left the Indian representatives looking for cover and forced the government to issue clarification on Jethmalani’s objectionable comments. Realizing the mistake, the government swiftly went into the damage control mode and sent Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao up to Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yan to clarify that New Delhi did not share Jethmalani’s views.
Later, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla also tendered an apology to the Chinese envoy.
Jethmalani’s unexpected anti-China outburst forced the Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik to publicly clarify that these views were not shared by Islamabad.
All this began when Jethmalani, seated at the head-table, stood up to deliver an impromptu speech, at a time when the VVIPs were about to wind up their dinner.
“Unless India and Pakistan are locked in the embrace of love, they will eventually be destroyed. Do not accept China as your friend, China is an enemy of both... beware of them (the Chinese),” Jethmalani was quoted as saying, addressing the visiting Pakistan Minister.
Minutes after Jethmalani concluded his speech, Pakistan High Commissioner got up and said, “I would like to clarify that we don’t agree to his comments on China. I hope these are his personal views.”
To which, Jethmalani reacted by saying, “Yes, these are my personal views”.
Among other dignitaries who were present at that time and became witness to the incident were Khar, Malik, MoS (External Affairs) Preneet Kaur, PM’s special envoy on Pakistan-Afghanistan Satinder K Lambah, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her successor Ranjan Mathai along with their spouses, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman K Rahman Khan, former sports minister M S Gill and MoS Rajeev Shukla etc.
Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador Yan was seated at a table nearby, along with US charge d’affairs Peter Burleigh, Sri Lankan High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam and Egyptian Ambassador Khaled el Bakly.
Jethmalani, who had already dome much damage to the government’s reputation by then, did not stop here and went on saying, “I wanted to be invited for this dinner today, and I wanted to come, especially after I saw your pictures in the newspapers today.”
He made an obvious reference to the state of democracy in Pakistan by comparing it to his marriage.
“Whenever I see democracy in Pakistan, I feel like the day I got married at the age of 18. The excitement like the day of my marriage, I feel the excitement every time I see Pakistan’s democracy coming through. I hope it will not be destroyed by any dictator,” he stated.
The former law minister also said though he was not an ardent admirers of dictators, he still believed that Pervez Musharraf wanted to restore normalcy in India-Pakistan relationship.
However, he concluded by blaming the New Delhi for missing the golden opportunity for strengthening ties with Islamabad.