29 July, New Delhi
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday asserted that Home Minister Rajnath Singh was visiting Islamabad next month solely for the purpose of attending the SAARC ministerial conference and ruled out any possibilities of bilateral talks with leaders of Pakistan.
“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.
Stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has articulated his vision on innumerable occasions that SAARC should be revitalized and that it’s is an important vehicle for bringing the region closer to each other, Swarup added that it would not send a very healthy signal if importance is not given to SAARC and to SAARC related cooperation in important areas, such as drug-trafficking, narco-trafficking, border management, anti-terrorism
Maintaining the stand that India wants a peaceful, cooperative relationship with Pakistan, Swarup said that India is prepared to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan, but in an atmosphere free of terror and violence.
“It is incumbent upon Pakistan to create the right conditions for that political dialogue to take place. Humanitarian issues will always be important to us, in fact they are important to both countries and any mechanism or institution which promotes cooperation on humanitarian issues, must be pursued,” he added.
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.
Sources told ANI that Rajnath will raise the issue of cross-border terrorism at the meeting.
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.