NEW DELHI: The Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, on Thursday slammed Pakistan from the SAARC platform in Islamabad over the Pathankot and 26/11 terror attacks, which were planned and executed by Pakistan-based terrorist groups with a tacit support of state actors.
In a veiled attack against Pakistan, Singh said strongest possible steps need to be taken, not only against terrorists and terrorist organisations, but also against those individuals, institutions, organisations or nations that support them.
Though the Home Minister did not name Pakistan, the reference was quite obvious. He also snubbed Pakistan by leaving Islamabad without attending the customary lunch. The lunch was hosted by his Pakistani counterpart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. 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.
Immediately after landing in Delhi, Singh met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to brief him on the conference.
Rajnath Singh also lashed out at Pakistan for lionising terrorists like Burhan Wani, whose killing had sparked protests in the Kashmir Valley. Pakistan, while extending moral support to the people in Kashmir Valley, had declared Wani to be a “popular leader”.
Speaking after Pakistan’s Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, Rajnath Singh said there was no “good terrorist” or “bad terrorist”. “It also needs to be ensured that terrorism is not glorified and is not patronised by any State. One country’s terrorist cannot be a martyr or freedom fighter for anyone,” Singh said. Reminding the gathered delegates of the “cowardly” terrorist attacks in Pathankot, Dhaka, Kabul and other places, Singh urged the nations to act in unison. As reports about Singh’s speech condemning the nations abetting terrorism filtered in, the Indian media broke into a frenzy claiming that no media was allowed inside the conference except Pakistan TV. However, sources in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) termed the reports “misleading” and clarified it to be a standard protocol, adding that only speeches of the Heads of the State are beamed live.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister, as expected, brought up the issue of Kashmir. “Using torture against innocent children and violence against civilians qualifies as terrorism,” he said. He also added that there was a need to end an “extremist” mindset and instead try to solve regional issues by dialogue.