Under fire from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for calling former Pakistan President and chief of Army staff Pervez Musharraf, who died on Sunday, "a real force for peace", senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor today hit back at the BJP. He questioned why the earlier BJP government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee negotiated a ceasefire with Mr Musharraf.
"Question to BJP leaders frothing at the mouth: if Musharraf was anathema to all patriotic Indians, why did the BJP Government negotiate a ceasefire with him in 2003 & sign the joint Vajpayee-Musharraf statement of 2004? Was he not seen as a credible peace partner then?" Mr Tharoor tweeted on Sunday.
Question to BJP leaders frothing at the mouth: if Musharraf was anathema to all patriotic Indians, why did the BJP Government negotiate a ceasefire with him in 2003 & sign the joint Vajpayee-Musharraf statement of 2004? Was he not seen as a credible peace partner then?— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) February 6, 2023
Countering sharp criticism from top BJP leaders for his condolence message, Shashi Tharoor had earlier said he was "raised in an India where you are expected to speak kindly of people when they die".
"I was raised in an India where you are expected to speak kindly of people when they die. Musharraf was an implacable enemy and was responsible for Kargil but he did work for peace w/India, in his own interest, 2002-7. He was no friend but he saw strategic benefit in peace, as did we," Mr Tharoor had said.
The Congress MP's first condolence tweet, soon after news of his death, triggered a series of accusations and counter-accusations.
"Pervez Musharraf, Former Pakistani President, Dies of Rare Disease': once an implacable foe of India, he became a real force for peace 2002-2007," Mr Tharoor had said in his first tweet on the issue.
"I met him annually in those days at the @un & found him smart, engaging & clear in his strategic thinking. RIP," the former minister of state for external affairs said.
Mr Tharoor's post brought fierce criticism from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Union Minister Rajeev Chandrashekhar hit out at Mr Tharoor, saying his post "best describes Cong" (Congress).
Mr Chandrashekhar, while taking to Twitter, slammed the grand old party for finding peace in a person who "inflicted terror a backstabbing conflict and tortured our soldiers in violation of every International law".
"Nothing like a proper military thrashing for Fatcat Pak Dictator Generals to become a "force for peace" n develop "clear strategic thinking". Not withstandng many lives lost n Intl laws violated n harm caused all around, these Generals will hv their admiring fans in India (sic)," the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar wrote in his tweet.
Several BJP leaders have accused the Congress of "Pakistan parasti (worship)". Union minister Jyoritiraditya Scindia asked if this was part of the "Haath Se Haath Jodo Abhiyan" with enemies.
"An Indian 'national' party's leader first casts doubts on our soldiers' act of bravery in Pulwama," Mr Scindia said, in an apparent reference to Congress leader Digvijaya Singh's remarks recently.
"Then another one eulogises Pervez Musharraf who was responsible for the Kargil war. Haath se haath jodo abhiyaan with enemies?" Mr Scindia said on Twitter on Monday.
Congress has launched the "Haath Se Haath Jodo Abhiyan" to spread the message of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Pervez Musharraf died on Sunday after a long bout of serious illness, at the American Hospital in UAE's Dubai after spending years in self-imposed exile. He was 79.
Mr Musharraf's organs were malfunctioning because of an ailment called amyloidosis. This disease affects connective tissues and organs, inhibiting normal functioning. It's a rare disease caused by a build-up of an abnormal protein called amyloid in organs and tissues throughout the body.
Pervez Musharraf was known as the architect of the Kargil war, the man who ordered his soldiers to enter India to cut off Leh from Srinagar.
In the war that followed in the summer of 1999, Pakistani soldiers, whose presence he denied, were decimated in the high mountains of Kargil. It was a catastrophic military failure for Mr Musharraf, who had pushed forward with the plan, keeping his Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif mostly in the dark.