Pakistan on Thursday blacked out Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s address to SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) home ministers’ meeting in Islamabad.
The Nawaz Sharif government did not allow the media to cover the visiting Indian minister’s speech at the SAARC meeting. Even, the Pakistani private television news channels were not allowed to telecast Singh’s speech.
Addressing the SAARC meeting, Singh called for tough action against terrorism and countries supporting the menace, stressing that terrorists should not be glorified as “martyrs”. He told the audience: “There is no good or bad terrorism. Terrorism is terrorism. There should be no glorification or eulogising of terrorists as martyrs.”
Earlier, Singh did not shake hands with his Pakistani counterpart Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan when they came face-to-face upon the former’s arrival at the venue of the conference at Serena Hotel in the Pakistani capital. Although Khan was at the gate to receive the SAARC dignitaries, Singh entered the meeting hall without shaking hands with the Pakistani interior minister. The local media reported that Singh and Khan also skipped the lunch at the meeting venue.
The Indian minister, who arrived in Islamabad on Thursday morning to attend the SAARC meeting, met Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the latter’s office. Later, he told the media: “It was a formal courtesy call, nothing else.” Prime Minister Sharif’s meeting with the Indian home minister came amidst the ongoing strain in Indo-Pak ties following the killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen militant Burhan Wani in Jammu and Kashmir on July 8. The Pak premier had not only praised Wani, but also said that “Kashmir will one day become Pakistan”. Immediately after Sharif made the comment, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj strongly criticised the Pak PM, saying that his dream of the Indian province becoming a part of Pakistan “will not be realised even at the end of eternity”.
On Friday, Singh told the Indian Parliament that he skipped the lunch hosted by his Pakistani counterpart on Thursday because he was not treated well in Islamabad. “It is true that Pakistani interior minister invited everyone for lunch. But then he left in his car. I also left. I have no complaints or grudges as I had not gone there to have lunch,” he told the Upper House of the Parliament.
Singh said that all the Indian PMs, irrespective of party affiliations, have done their best to improve relations with neighbours, but Pakistan’s response has not been positive.