ISLAMABAD: Raising the Kashmir issue at the SAARC meeting, Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan today alleged that the violence being committed in Kashmir is "open terrorism".
Addressing the one-day Interior/Home Ministers Conference of SAARC countries here, Khan equated the use of force by Indian security forces with "terrorism". There is a difference between fighting for freedom and terrorism, he was quoted as saying by local media.
"The violence being committed against the innocent people" of Kashmir is "open terrorism", he said, speaking extempore. Local media reports said that it seemed Khan decided to ignore the written notes in order to respond to the speech of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who without naming Pakistan lambasted it for supporting terrorism.
The Express News reported that Khan left his seat of the speaker to address all issues point by point raised by the home ministers of the member countries. "We have always wished to work in close cooperation with all our neighbours and we believe all pending issues can be addressed through dialogue," he said.
Khan said Pakistan suffered heavy losses in the fight against terrorism and the country condemned every single incident of terror which claimed innocent lives. The SAARC group includes India, Pakistan, Nepal, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Later, while addressing a media briefing, Khan said he responded to Singh's speech at the SAARC conference to "put the record straight" on the issue of terrorism.
"I had to respond, though I would have avoided after elected as chairman to run the proceedings," Khan said. "When someone tries to cast aspersions on Pakistan, then it becomes necessary to clarify our stance and position," he said.
Khan said Rajnath had not named Pakistan but his intentions and target was clear. "I said that not only terrorist attacks in Dhaka, Mumbai and Pathankot should be condemned but also those committed in Peshawar, Karachi and Lahore," he said.
"I also said that there is blatant foreign intervention in Pakistan across from the borders but we do not raise a storm," he said. Khan said he offered that instead of blaming each other, it was better to sit together for talks over differences and other issues.
He also said that the meeting of SAARC ministers was successful and all agenda items were discussed. Khan said the next meeting would be held in Sri Lanka in 2017. A statement issued by Pakistan's Interior Ministry said, "Khan called on regional countries to differentiate between terrorism and freedom movements sanctified by the UN Security Council."
"The Interior Minister highlighted that Pakistan itself has been the biggest victim of terrorism and instead of engaging in a blame game and taking swipes at each other we should take time out to reflect and sit down together and try to work out the problems and reservations which we might have towards each other," the statement said.
"He (Khan) maintained that Pakistan is ready to engage in any dialogue process based on mutual respect and dignity. It is for those who put conditions and sub conditions for initiating dialogue to reconsider and realign their positions. He said, that unlike mentioned by India, terrorist activities are not only restricted to India, Afghanistan, or Bangladesh. Scores of terror incidents taking place in Pakistan are equally condemnable if not more," it said.