India To Discuss ‘Pak-Sponsored Terrorism’ With Russia, US

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to send his Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Russia and the US later this month mainly to discuss Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism and the growing influence of Islamic State (IS) terror outfit in South Asia.

The Modi government has confirmed Singh’s visit to the two countries, saying in a statement that the minister will highlight the issue of Pakistan sponsoring terrorism in India and New Delhi’s efforts to counter activities of Pakistani and IS terrorists in the region. According to the statement, the Indian minister will arrive in Russia on September 18 for a five-day visit. During his stay in Moscow, Singh will also discuss issues related to bilateral anti-terror co-operation with Russian Minister for Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

The Indian home minister will begin a seven-day US visit on September 26. In Washington, Singh will take part in the Indo-US Homeland Security Dialogue with his American counterpart Jeh Charles Johnson. The Dialogue will give the visiting minister an opportunity to discuss steps taken by India to counter Pakistan-sponsored terrorism with the US official.

Speaking at a press conference in New Delhi on Monday, a senior Home Ministry official said: “In both the bilateral visits to Russia and the US, the home minister will highlight Pakistan’s direct involvement in cross-border terrorism and growing activities of the Middle East terror group in India and its neighbourhood.” According to the official, the home minister will urge his Russian and US counterparts to share intelligence inputs with India and boost bilateral anti-terror co-operation.

During the recently held G-20 Summit, BRICS Meet and East Asia Summit, Prime Minister Modi increased pressure on Pakistan by raising the pitch on the issue of “terror export” from the neighbouring country. The PM also called on the international community to isolate and sanction the instigator of terrorism in order to make the world “terror free”. Now, it will be Singh’s turn to corner Pakistan on the same issue.

The Modi administration decides to take a tough stance on Pakistan, as Islamabad is openly backing militancy in northern Indian province of Kashmir. The province has been badly hit by unrest for more then two months. “The bilateral visits of the home minister are part of India’s efforts to create global opinion against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India,” stressed the Home Ministry official.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and Russia are making preparations for holding first-ever joint military exercises, called ‘Friendship-2016’. The Pakistani media reported on Monday that around 200 military personnel from the two countries would participate in the joint exercises. Pakistani Ambassador to Moscow Qazi Khalilullah confirmed the report, saying that Islamabad was also planning to acquire advanced Russian fighter jets in the coming days. However, the envoy did not confirm the nature of the exercises or dates.

Foreign policy experts opine that relations between Pakistan and the US have deteriorated since the secret CIA raid in Abbottabad that killed al-Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Later, the US lawmakers blocked funds for the sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Islamabad, prompting the Nawaz Sharif government to consider alternative sources to purchase aircraft and other defence equipment from a third party, like Russia or Jordan. Experts believe that the growing strategic partnership between India and the US is another important factor that encourages Pakistan to consider a major foreign policy shift. These developments clearly show that South Asia is currently witnessing a strategic realignment. However, nobody is ready to talk about it openly.

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