China your enemy: Jethmalani walks all over Pak’s red carpet

There were several red faces at the Pakistan High Commission's reception for visiting Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar here this evening when former Law Minister and Rajya Sabha MP Ram Jethmalani called China an "enemy" of both India and Pakistan — in the presence of the Chinese Ambassador — and peppered his speech with politically incorrect references, including one to Khar's photograph.

This remark forced Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik to publicly clarify that these views were not shared by Pakistan. The Government, too, scrambled to control the damage with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao walking up to Chinese ambassador Zhang Yan to clarify that New Delhi, too, did not share Jethmalani's views. Rajiv Shukla, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, also apologised to the Chinese envoy.

The incident took place as the dinner was winding down when Jethmalani, seated at the head-table, stood up and started an impromptu speech.

"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 said, addressing the visiting Pakistan Minister.

As soon as Jethmalani completed his speech, Shahid Malik 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 said, "Yes, these are my personal views".

At the head-table 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 among others.

Chinese ambassador Zhang 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. The reference to China wasn't the only Jethmalani embarrassment.

"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 began, addressing Khar.

Then he recalled 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."

The former law minister also said, "I am not a great a lover of dictators but I have an exception. I believe he (Pervez Musharraf) wanted peace between India and Pakistan and I believe India missed the bus. The fault lies on this side, few people will admit this."

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