Rajnath Singh chairs high-level meet ahead of SAARC meet in Pakistan

Ahead of his visit to Pakistan for the South Asian Association Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meeting, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday chaired a high-level meeting.

Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Intelligence Bureau (IB) Chief Dineshwar Sharma and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Rajinder Khanna were also present at the meeting.

Amid the rumours that Rajnath, in his visit, will raise the issue of cross-border and sponsored terrorism, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has ruled out any possibilities of bilateral talks with leaders of Pakistan, saying that the visit was strictly for the purpose of attending the SAARC ministerial conference.

“The Home Minister is not travelling for a bilateral engagement with Pakistan, he is going for a SAARC related event. You know the importance that we attach to SAARC, to regional cooperation, to regional prosperity.

So please take this in the right context. The Home Minister is visiting Pakistan for a SAARC related event as Home Ministers of India have been attending all previous Home Minister related events in the SAARC context,” MEA official spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a press conference.

When asked if the Home Minister could possibly hand over any information, any dossier or any follow-up bilaterally on India’s terror concerns to his Pakistani counterpart Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, the MEA spokesperson stated that there is no such proposal and re-iterated that Rajnath is only going for a multi-lateral SAARC event.

Rajnath will be accompanied by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and several other senior officers of the Home Ministry.

The meeting in Pakistan is significant as Singh last week slammed the neighbour state for interfering in India’s internal affairs – the current unrest in Kashmir.

Blaming Pakistan directly for the tense situation in Kashmir, Rajnath had said that Islamabad must understand that instigating youth to pick up weapons is not correct.

“I want to tell my neighbour that instigating our youth to pick up weapons is not correct. We don’t need third party’s involvement to address the situation that prevails in Jammu & Kashmir,” he said, adding that Pakistan itself is a victim of terrorism and it must not encourage violence in Kashmir.

At the 13th SAARC Summit held in Dhaka in November 2005, the Heads of State decided that the SAARC Interior/Home Ministers would meet annually preceded by a meeting of the Interior/Home Secretaries to strengthen cooperation in the area of counterterrorism, which they agreed was a challenge to all states and a threat to humanity, and could not be justified on any grounds.