Shouldn’t play with words, violence by India in Kashmir 'open terrorism': Pakistan’s Interior Minister to Rajnath Singh
After Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s stinging attack at Islamabad for “eulogising of terrorists as martyrs”, his Pakistani counterpart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan alleged that the violence being committed in Kashmir is "open terrorism".
Raising the Kashmir issue at the SAARC meeting, Pakistan's Interior Minister equated the use of force by Indian security forces with "terrorism".
He added that India was being "dishonest" by calling the independence struggle in the region "terrorism".
“He (Rajnath Singh) did not take any country’s name. He talked in general terms but whatever he said was clearly directed at Pakistan,” Khan said.
"To call this specific (Kashmiri) independence struggle terrorism is being dishonest with history itself, because this independence struggle is had been certified by no less than the United Nation Security Council who have given the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people," Khan was quoted by Associated Press.
"The violence being committed against the innocent people" of Kashmir is "open terrorism", he said.
Responding to Rajnath, Khan said, “He shouldn’t target our country by playing with words. I have said that terror acts must be condemned wherever they take place. Even Pakistan itself is a victim of terrorism.”
He said Pakistan was "open to dialogue" but with "dignity and respect".
"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 even 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.
The ongoing strain in Indo-Pak relations was evident at the SAARC Interior/Home Ministers’ conference in Islamabad when Rajnath Singh came face- to-face with Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan for the first time today and the two leaders barely shook hands.
As Singh arrived at the venue of the conference at the posh Serena Hotel here, Khan was at the gate to receive the dignitaries. The two leaders barely touched their hands, not even a formal handshake, before Singh moved ahead to enter the meeting hall.
Members of the Indian media, which came from New Delhi to report the conference, were not allowed to capture the moment and was kept at a distance by Pakistani officials, which led to a verbal dual between a senior Indian official and a Pakistani official.
Later in the day, Rajnath Singh, while speaking at the SAARC meet came down heavily on Pakistan for adopting a dual stand on the issue of eliminating terrorism.
“There are no good terrorists or bad terrorists,” he said.
Referring to Pakistani government’s declaration of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani as a ‘martyr’, he said, “There should be no glorification or eulogising of terrorists as martyrs.”
The July 8 killing of Wani was followed by provocative statements from the Pakistani government on the current situation in the Valley. The Pakistani premier had even declared Wani, a wanted militant of banned Hizbul Mujahideen group, a ‘hero’ and even observed a ‘black day’ in solidarity with him.
Calling for quick action against terrorists, Singh said, “Mere strong condemnation of terrorism and terrorists is not enough. There should be strongest action not only against terrorists or organisations but also against those individuals, organisations and nations who support terrorism.”
Later, reports erupted that Rajnath Singh's speech was blacked out as media organisations, including Pakistani and Indian private TV news channels, were barred from covering the conference.
The only broadcaster allowed inside the venue was state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV), which did not air the address by Rajnath.
India described the reports of blackout as "misleading".
"With reference to the Home Ministers meeting in Islamabad earlier today, media reports of a 'blackout' of our Home Minister's statement are misleading,” a government source said.
Various religious and jihadist organisations protested against Rajnath Singh’s visit to Islamabad. Mishal Malik, the wife of separatist leader Yasin Malik, had led a token protest against Rajnath's visit in front of the National Press Club.