Rajnath Singh in Pakistan to attend SAARC meet amid protests by terror groups; Nawaz Sharif provokes again

Rajnath Singh was flown to the Islamabad's Serena Hotel in a helicopter as a precautionary measure.

Updated: Aug 03, 2016, 23:41 PM IST
PlayRajnath Singh in Pakistan to attend SAARC meet amid protests by terror groups; Nawaz Sharif provokes again
Pic Courtesy: ANI

Islamabad: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday arrived in Pakistan to attend the SAARC Interior Ministers' conference, notwithstanding threats from terror groups.

Singh, who arrived here this evening on his maiden visit to Pakistan, has been accorded tight security and was flown in a helicopter to the Serena hotel located in posh Islamabad locality. It is also the venue of tomorrow's meeting where Singh will be underlining the need for meaningful cooperation among South Asian countries.

Despite tight security, around 100 people gathered outside the hotel shouting anti-India slogans and protested against Singh's visit. Notably, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin had warned of a nationwide protest if Singh arrives in Islamabad to attend the SAARC ministerial conference which would be inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Roads leading to the hotel have been heavily barricaded by the police and paramilitary forces to ward off any threat from terror groups. In the past, there have been instances when terrorists rammed explosive-laden trucks into the hotels.

 

Meanwhile, Sharif made provocative comments on Kashmir, calling the issue as the main pillar of Islamabad's foreign policy.

Sharif, addressing the concluding session of the three-day conference of Pakistani envoys in Islamabad, stated that "desire of freedom is running in the blood of Kashmiris".

Before leaving for Islamabad to attend the day-long SAARC Home Ministers' Conference, Singh, who is expected to tell Pakistan to stop sponsoring terror in India and rein in groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, said:

India has been demanding handing over of Dawood, who has been designated as a global terrorist by the anti-terror body of the United Nations, for running an organised crime syndicate from Pakistan.

Tomorrow's meeting is preceded by the 7th Meeting of the SAARC Interior/Home Secretaries which is being held today. The Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, who is leading the Indian delegation, arrived here yesterday.

There is little possibility of Singh having a bilateral meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the wake of strain in Indo-Pak relations after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in Jammu and Kashmir on July 8.

Not only did Prime Minister Sharif praise Wani but he also remarked that "Kashmir will one day become Pakistan", a comment which evoked a sharp reaction from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who said his dream of the state becoming a part of his country "will not be realised even at the end of eternity".

On the eve of the conference, Sharif said that Kashmir was witnessing a "new wave of the freedom movement" and asked Pakistani diplomats to apprise the world that Kashmir was "not an internal matter" of India.

"Today Kashmir is witnessing a new wave of the freedom movement," Sharif said, needling India.

 

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.

The three-tier meeting began at the joint secretary-level and then moves on to Secretary and Home Minister-level meetings.

The focus of the meeting will also be on strengthening networking among police forces of SAARC member-countries and also enhance information-sharing among law enforcement agencies.