Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has said former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf, who died on Sunday, was "once an implacable foe of India" but became a "real force for peace" later on, drawing the Bharatiya Janata Party's ire which accused his party of "eulogising" the architect of the Kargil War.
Pakistan's former military ruler Musharraf died on Sunday in Dubai after battling an incurable disease. He was 79.
Tharoor's social media post condoling his demise evoked a sharp response from the BJP which accused the Congress of "Pakistan parasti (worshipping)".
'Pervez Musharraf, Former Pakistani President, Dies of Rare Disease': once an implacable foe of India, he became a real force for peace 2002-2007," Tharoor said in a tweet.
"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.
Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar slammed Tharoor for his tweet.
"Nothing like a proper military thrashing for Fatcat Pak Dictator Generals to become a "force for peace" and develop "clear strategic thinking". Not withstandng many lives lost n Intl laws violated n harm caused all around, these Generals will have their admiring fans in India (sic)," Chandrasekhar said.
In another tweet, he said, "That a former Cong Foreign Min (a party that refused to celebrate Kargil Vijay Diwas till 2010) wud think that a Pak General who inflicted terror, a back stabbing conflict n tortured our Soldiers in violatn of every Intl law, wud be a 'force for peace' - best describes Cong (sic)."
Tagging Tharoor's tweets, BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla said, "Pervez Musharraf architect of Kargil, dictator, accused of heinous crimes who considered Taliban & Osama as 'brothers' & 'heroes' who refused to even take back bodies of his own dead soldiers is being hailed by Congress! Are you surprised? Again, Congress ki pak parasti!"
"Once upon a time Musharraf had hailed Rahul Gandhi as a gentleman perhaps that endears Congress to Musharraf??" he said.
"From 370 to Surgical Strike to doubting Balakote Congress echoed Pak line & hails Musharraf but called our own chief 'Sadak Ka Gunda'..This is Congress!!" Poonawalla said.
In another tweet, the BJP leader shared an old video of Musharraf talking about his son being invited by Rahul Gandhi and Musharraf's wife, brother and son being invited for lunch by former prime minister Manmohan Singh when they were on a Delhi visit, during his tenure as the Pakistan president.
"Parvez Musharraf who had hailed Osama Bin Laden & Taliban had sung praises of Rahul Gandhi too - called him a gentleman and pledged his support to him!! Perhaps this is the reason why Shashi Tharoor is eulogising the architect of Kargil & a backer of terrorism!! Sigh," Poonawalla said in his tweet, tagging the video.
BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia also slammed Tharoor saying, "Sharm ek Sheikh to Sharm Kar Shashi. Misplaced priorities of a former external affairs minister."
"Congress eulogising a person who attacked our country during Kargil. Indians revere martyrs Capt Vikram Batra, Lt Manoj Pandey, Grn Yogendra Yadav, Rifleman Sanjay Kumar not Pervez," he said.
Musharraf, who lived in self-imposed exile in the UAE to avoid criminal charges against him in Pakistan, died at the American Hospital in Dubai.
He was suffering from amyloidosis, a rare disease caused by a build-up of an abnormal protein called amyloid in organs and tissues throughout the body, according to his family.
Musharraf was born on August 11, 1943 in Delhi.
He assumed the post of chief executive after imposing martial law in the country in 1999 and served as the president of Pakistan from 2001 to 2008.
In her condolence message, former J-K chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said Musharraf was perhaps the only Pakistani general who genuinely tried to address the Kashmir issue.
"Deepest condolences. Perhaps the only Pakistani General who genuinely tried to address the Kashmir issue. He wanted a solution according to wishes of people of J&K & acceptable to India & Pak. Though GOI has reversed all CBMs initiated by him & Vajpayee ji, the ceasefire remains," Mufti tweeted.