Islamabad: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday arrived back in New Delhi after skipping a lunch hosted by his Pakistani counterpart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. His scheduled news conference at Delhi airport was also cancelled.
Khan had organised the lunch for the visiting dignitaries, who were here to attend the seventh 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 Home Minister later had his lunch at his hotel room along with the members of the accompanying Indian delegation. After the lunch, Singh left for India.
The ongoing strain in Indo-Pak relations was also evident at the SAARC Interior/Home Ministers’ conference here when Singh came face-to-face with Khan for the first time today and the two leaders barely shook hands.
As Singh arrived at the venue of the conference at the posh Serena Hotel here, Khan was at the gate to receive the dignitaries. The two leaders barely touched their hands, not even a formal handshake, before Singh moved ahead to enter the meeting hall.
Earlier in the day, Singh, in a strong message to Pakistan, said there should be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs and also called for “strongest action” against nations supporting terrorism.
Without mincing any words, Singh told the Interior/Home Ministers Conference of SAARC countries that mere condemnation of terrorism and terrorists is not enough.
Singh’s comments in his speech came against the backdrop of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz 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.
“There should be no glorification or eulogising of terrorists as martyrs. There are no good terrorists or bad terrorists,” Singh said.
Shockingly, Singh`s speech during the meet was blacked out. Members of the Indian media, who had come from New Delhi to report on the conference, were not allowed to cover the speech. They were reportedly kept at a distance by Pakistani officials. Some reports said that there was an aggressive verbal exchange between officials of the two sides over the issue. Only Pakistan state PTV was allowed to cover introductory speeches of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan. Even private Pakistani media not allowed to cover the event.
Singh arrived in Islamabad yesterday amid protests by supporters of various terrorist groups, including the Hizbul Mujahideen.
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