NEW DELHI: Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Pakistan, a first after the terror attack on the Pathankot air base in January, was on Wednesday marred by protests led by UN-proscribed terrorist Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahudeen.
India had made it clear that there will not be any “bilateral talk” during Rajnath’s visit which is essentially to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) interior minister’s conference. The home minister is likely to raise the issue of support for terrorism in the South Asian region emanating from Pakistan.
New Delhi had raised concerns about the security of the Saarc conference and Rajnath in the wake of threats of protests by 26/11 mastermind Saeed, who had held the minister responsible for the “atrocities” in Kashmir. Much to India’s chagrin Hizbul’s Salahuddin was also seen at the anti-Rajnath rally. Slain militant Burhan Wani, whose death triggered another summer of discontent in the Kashmir Valley, belonged to the terror outfit.
Pakistan has deployed about 200 personnel, including commandos from Pakistan’s elite forces, for his security. Rajnath is accompanied by Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi. However, Islamabad has denied visa to any Indian private news organisation to cover the event.
The Home Minister’s Pakistan visit has come at a time when the relations between the two arch rivals have plummeted to a new low with both exchanging harsh statements on the Kashmir issue on an almost daily basis.