Protests erupt in Pakistan against Rajnath Singh’s Islamabad visit to attend SAARC meet
Amid bilateral tensions over violence in Kashmir, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday arrived in Pakistan to attend the seventh meeting of SAARC Home/Interior Ministers’ Conference in Islamabad.
After arriving in Islamabad, Singh met Amir Ahmed, the additional secretary of Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
Meanwhile, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin took to the streets of Islamabad to lodge protest against Singh’s visit. Holding Singh responsible for the killings of his area commander Burhan Wani and Kashmiri protesters, the chief of United Jihad Council slammed the Pakistan government for welcoming the Indian Home Minister.
A group of All Parties Hurriyat Conference workers also held a protest in Rawalpindi against Singh`s arrival. The protesters shouted anti-India slogans in Faizabad area of Rawalpindi, around 20 km from Islamabad where the two-day SAARC conference is being held.
Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed had also warned of a countrywide protest in Pakistan by his outfit when Rajnath Singh arrives in Islamabad.
Before commencing on his trip, Rajnath Singh took to Twitter to say that he is looking forward to underscore the imperative of meaningful cooperation within the region against terrorism and organised crime.
Issues related to most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim and cross-border terrorism are likely to be the focus of Home Minister Rajnath Singh at the SAARC Interior/Home Ministers’ meet tomorrow.
It was not immediately clear whether Singh will meet his Pakistani counterpart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan separately due to sudden strain in India-Pakistan relations after Islamabad glorified the death of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani.
However, the Home Minister, in his speech at the SAARC meeting, is expected to raise the issue of Pakistan’s support to Ibrahim and to terror groups operating in India and ask Islamabad to check Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and other groups based in that country.
Singh is also likely to raise the issue of fake Indian currency notes being circulated at the behest of Pakistani agencies, sources said.
Apart from terrorism, other key issues to be discussed include liberalisation of visa, illegal trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and small arms and how to make coordinated and concerted efforts to combat such menace.
Such meetings discuss regional cooperation on a number of security-related matters and take stock of progress in various regional mechanisms.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation leadership had agreed in 2005 during the 13th summit in Dhaka that Home/Interior Ministers of the SAARC nations may meet annually to strengthen cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism.
The first meeting of Home/Interior Minister was held in Dhaka on May 11, 2006.
-August 3, 2016, New Delhi