Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s reported remarks at an informal meeting with journalists in New York triggered a controversy, which was lapped up for political gains by BJP leader Narendra Modi.
The row reinforced the perception that India’s relations with Pakistan have always been testy.
The root of the controversy can be found in a phone report by Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir to his news channel Geo TV.
Mir, in his report, said Singh raising the issue of Pakistan-based terrorism during his meeting with US President Barack Obama was like a rural woman (“dehati aurat”) taking a complaint to a third person.
The video of the Geo TV report went viral on social media networks and Modi, who addressed a massive rally here, said Sharif dared to compare the Indian Prime Minister with a village woman because his own partymen show scant respect to Singh.
A senior Indian journalist, who also came under Modi’s fire, later clarified that no pejorative or derogatory phrase was used for the prime minister.
According to the journalist, Sharif had referred to an allegorical story of a dispute between two people in a village, in which one was a woman. The moral of his story was that disputes should be settled between parties directly and not involve a third party.
Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken also contributed his bit to the controversy by dubbing Modi’s remarks against Singh as “anti-national” as he (Modi) believed a Pakistani journalist.
Later, Mir withdrew his comments in a series of Twitter posts and insisted that “nothing derogatory was said by Sharif about the (Indian) PM”.