Undeterred by the promise nationwide protests by the Lashkar-e-Toiba founder and 26/11 terror attacks mastermind Hafeez Saeed, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s Pakistan visit to attend the SAARC Home Ministers’ conference on Wednesday is on schedule.
This was confirmed by Singh’s deputy, the minister of state for home Kiran Rijiju. He told reporters: ‘‘The SAARC meeting is a multilateral meeting. There are some commitments. He is not going to give some message or having a separate meeting with (the) Pakistani Home Minister.”
As the biggest country in the regional forum, India feels that it is responsible for driving mutual cooperation with its neighbours on various issues, and it cannot allow the status of the India-Pakistan relations to influence the working of the SAARC combination.
At the same time, it wishes to ensure that Pakistan does not read any wrong signals in the Union home minister’s visit to Islamabad. But the government has scaled down the level of this visit, and the size of the delegation has also been cut back.
Initially, there was an expectation that Singh would discuss the issues arising out of the Pathankot terror attack and hand over a dossier that proves the Pakistan link in this incident as well as the Kashmir violence. Now the agenda would be restricted to just SAARC, although terrorism would still figure in the discussion considering that it impacts all the SAARC countries.
Stepping up his anti-India propaganda, the LeT founder Hafeez Saeed had demanded that Singh should not be ‘welcomed’ in Pakistan as he is “responsible for the killings of innocent Kashmiris.” He had said: ‘‘I want to ask the Pakistani government will it add insult to injury to the wounds of Kashmiris by welcoming Rajnath who is responsible for the killings of innocent Kashmiris. It will be ironical as, on the one hand, the whole Pakistani nation is protesting against the Indian atrocities in Kashmir and, on the other hand, the Pakistani rulers will be garlanding Singh.”
This statement is in the backdrop of growing strain in Indo-Pak ties after Pakistan and its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made provocative statements on the Kashmir situation in the wake of Burhan Wani’s killing on July 8. Wani was a wanted terrorist of banned Hizbul Mujahideen. Not only did Sharif praise Wani but he also remarked that “Kashmir will one day become a part of Pakistan”, a comment which evoked a sharp reaction from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who said his dream of the state becoming a part of his country “will not be realised even at the end of eternity”.
Saeed who carries a $ 10 million US dollars bounty on his head has warned that protest demonstrations will be held and rallies taken out in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan, Faisalabad, Muzaffarabad and other cities of the country on August 3rd when Singh visits Islamabad.
United Jihad Council chief Syed Salahuddin, who is based in PoK, echoed what Hafiz has said and accused Rajnath Singh of being a “killer of Kashmiris” and urged Islamabad to recall its envoy from India over the ongoing unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.