NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to state whether terrorism in India will end since Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar has been declared a global terrorist by the UN Security Council.
"We want terrorism to end," he said, demanding that Pakistan be declared as a "terrorist state" and wanting the Prime Minister to promise this to the country.
The former Union Minister questioned why Modi was "taking credit" for JeM chief's listing as a global terrorist by the UNSC and said the Prime Minister should instead "apologise" to the country on behalf of his party as it was the previous BJP government which had set Azhar free and "delivered" him "to Pakistan" following the hijack of Indian Airlines plane IC-814 in 1999.
Azhar was listed as a global terrorist by UNSC's 1267 Sanctions Committee on May 1.
"How is it the success of Modi? It is the success of Indian diplomacy with the support of international community," Sibal told IANS.
He said after 26/11, on December 11, 2008, Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed was declared a terrorist along with some other top Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) commanders like Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi and Mohd Ashraf.
"Did we take credit? Was it because of (the then Prime Minister) Dr Manmohan Singh? No. It's the success of our international diplomacy," said Sibal, who was a minister then.
"And then, despite all this, terrorism continued, despite they (Saeed, Lakhvi and Ashraf) being declared terrorists," he said.
"We want terror to end and Modi cannot promise to people of the country as none other can," he said.
Contending that Modi was "taking credit for everything that others do while he is an utter failure for what he does", the Congress leader said: "Even after all this, can Modi tell us that terrorism will end after Masood Azhar has been declared a terrorist?"
While targeting the Prime Minister and the BJP, he said: "Who delivered Masood Azhar to Pakistan? The previous BJP government, which took him on a special plane after IC-814 was hijacked to Afghanistan. And he (Modi) is taking credit for having declared him a terrorist? Then why did you release him if he was a terrorist?"
Azhar, the chief of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen then, was among three terrorists released from an Indian jail in exchange of 155 hostages on board the plane which was hijacked to Kandahar in Afghanistan during its flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi in December 1999. Soon thereafter, Azhar formed JeM in Pakistan.
Modi "must apologise to the nation on behalf of his party that they released a terrorist who would never have set up Jaish-e-Mohammad," Sibal said.
Targeting the Prime Minister, he said: "The issue is not whether you are a terrorist or not under 1267 resolution (of the UNSC's Sanction Committee). The issue is whether you can end terrorism. None of this is going to end terror. So what are you taking credit for?"
He added: "We must have Pakistan declared as a terrorist state. Can Modi promise that to the country? He will promise but he will never deliver because all his promises have not been delivered."
Refusing to accept that Modi is a "strong leader" as projected by the BJP, Sibal said: "I don't understand on what basis they are saying it is a strong government. In fact, it is the most indecisive government which has actually plundered the lives of ordinary men and women."
The prominent advocate argued that the strength of a government lies in its ability to own up to its failures and said: "This government has never owned up to any failures."
He listed demonetization as a major failure of the Modi government, saying it did not end terrorism or black money and did not lead to a cashless economy as promised by the Prime Minister when he announced the decision on November 8, 2016.
"So what is his (Modi's) strength? His strength is that he has the ability to tell lies in the face of facts. His strength is that he is destroying India," Sibal said.
"His (Modi's) strength is that he seeks to ride on the shoulders of others and appropriates those as his achievements. These are not strengths, these are failures," the Congress leader added.
"In fact, he is a weak Prime Minister that he shows his strength only through the electronic media, through audio bytes while his government bites people on daily basis and destroys people. He is only interested in coming back to power and least concerned with the future of India," he said.
Referring to BJP's election campaign pitch centred around the surgical strike of 2016 and Balakot air raid, Sibal said such cross-border military actions were conducted even during the Manmohan Singh government but the Congress never went public about those "because these are matters between the armed forces".
"These must be restricted to the armed forces. We should not make these issues political. The armed forces should not be dragged into politics. That is again a constitutional imperative, which again he (Modi) is seeking to breach. This again shows his failure to understand what the Constitution stands for. He only understands what Hindutva stands for," he said.
Asked why it is not fair to make public such actions taken to counter terrorism, the Congress leader said: "These befitting replies should not be part of political discourse. Why should you? For what purpose? If you declare it to the public, what is the purpose unless you want to gain political capital?"
He said during the UPA government, some of cross-border military strikes were carried out in 2008 and the Lok Sabha elections took place in 2009. "Did PM Manmohan Singh take credit?"
When pointed out that Modi has been saying that the UPA government did nothing after the Mumbai attacks in 2008, Sibal said it was a false allegation.
He said the Congress party has made public a list of six surgical strikes conducted during its rule and that former Army chiefs have confirmed the military actions taken between 2008 and 2014.
Targeting Modi, he said he had been saying before becoming the Prime Minister in 2014 that he would "capture Lahore" if any terrorist attack took place in India. "(But), in fact, he tried to entice Lahore on (then Pakistan Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif's birthday (in December 2015). He tried to embrace Lahore. Just the opposite of what he had been saying."
Sibal strongly countered the campaign of Modi and the BJP that Manmohan Singh was a weak Prime Minister. "In fact, he (Modi) is the weakest Prime Minister. Manmohan Singh is a thoughtful, quiet Prime Minister for whom the nation came first and he afterwards. For Modi, he comes first and the nation afterwards," he said.
"That is why 'acche din' (good days) are only for Modi and (BJP President Amit) Shah, not for farmers, not for small people, not for young people who are desperate for jobs. Where are those 'acche din', 'sabka sath, sabka vikas'? It is only 'Shah ka sath aur Modi ka vikas'," he added.