Islamabad: In a hard-hitting and blunt message, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in his address to the 7th SAARC Interiors Ministers Conference, asked Pakistan not to glorify terrorists and stop encouraging terror groups.
At the same time, he also called for “strongest action” against nations supporting terrorism and their isolation.
Without mincing any words, amid the strain in Indo-Pak relations, Singh said mere condemnation of terrorism and terrorists was not enough and that there are “no good terrorists or bad terrorists”.
Singh added that terrorism continued to remain the biggest challenge and threat to the region.
Speaking in Hindi at the conference, Singh said there should be “strongest action not only against terrorists or organisations but also against those individuals, organisations and nations who support terrorism.”
“It also needs to be ensured that terrorism is not glorified and is not patronised by any state,” Singh said in a veiled dig at Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Singh’s comments came against the backdrop of Sharif’s praise of Burhan Wani who was killed in an encounter in Jammu and Kashmir on July 8 and his description of Hizbul Mujahideen ‘commander’ as a martyr, much to India’s ire.
“One country’s terrorist cannot be a martyr or freedom fighter for anyone. I also speak for the entire humanity – not just for India or other SAARC members in urging that in no circumstances should terrorists be eulogised as martyrs,” he said.
Calling for isolation of countries or individuals who provide any kind of support, encouragement, sanctuary, safe haven or any assistance to terrorists, Singh said that “strongest possible steps need to be taken not only against terrorists and terrorist organisations but also those individuals, institutions, organisations or nations that support them. Only this will ensure that the forces engaged in promoting the heinous crime of terrorism against humanity are effectively countered.”
Stressing for greater regional prosperity and cooperation between South Asian countries, Singh, however, said that mounting threats and terror incidents endanger region’s peace and stability.
“Terrorism remains the biggest challenge and threat to our peace. South Asia continues to be deeply affected by this malady, as witnessed most recently in cowardly terrorist attacks in Pathankot, Dhaka, Kabul and other places,” Singh said after listening to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan.
Singh arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday evening amid anti-India protests organized by terror groups including the United Jehad Council – a militant amalgam of groups fighting in Kashmir but based in Pakistan.
Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, the chief the Lashkar-e-Taiba, also led an anti-India rally in Lahore where he lashed out at the Pakistan government for allowing Rajnath Singh to visit Islamabad.
Meanwhile, India today described the reports of a ‘blackout’ of Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement during the SAARC ministerial meeting as “misleading”.
“With reference to the Home Ministers meeting in Islamabad earlier today, media reports of a ‘blackout’ of our Home Minister’s statement are misleading,” a government source said, as per PTI.
“It is the standard SAARC practice that the opening statement by the host country is public and open to the media while the rest of the proceedings are in camera, which allows for a full and frank discussion of issues,” the source added.
The reaction came after there were reports that Singh’s speech was reportedly blacked out as media organisations were not allowed to cover the 7th SAARC Home/Interior Ministers’ conference.
The only broadcaster allowed inside the venue was state-owned Pakistan Television, the reports said.
Interestingly, Singh today skipped a lunch hosted by his Pakistani counterpart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan after the host himself left the venue.
Khan had organised the lunch for the visiting dignitaries, who were here to attend the 7th SAARC Interior/Home Ministers’ conference, and had scheduled it after the main meeting.
However, the Pakistani Interior Minister left the venue immediately after the meeting got over despite being the host of the lunch. Singh then took the decision to skip the lunch.
The HM later had his lunch at his hotel room along with the members of the accompanying Indian delegation. After the lunch, Singh left for India.
On the other hand, Singh today briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his visit to Pakistan. Official sources said Singh rushed to meet PM Modi straight from the airport to “debrief” him about the events during his visit to Pakistan.
They said Singh informed PM about the speech he made at the conference, his interactions on the sidelines with the leaders, and deliberations during the official sessions.
Singh arrived here by a BSF plane at around 4.30 pm and cancelled his scheduled press briefing at the airport to meet PM Modi, they said.
(With Agency inputs)