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Rajnath Singh to visit Pakistan today, to get ‘presidential-level’ security

Amid bilateral tensions over unrest in Kashmir, Home Minister Rajnath Singh will today travel to Pakistan to attend the seventh meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Home/Interior Ministers.
India TV Politics Desk New Delhi August 03, 2016 9:17 IST
India TV Politics Desk

Amid bilateral tensions over unrest in Kashmir, Home Minister Rajnath Singh will today travel to Pakistan to attend the seventh meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Home/Interior Ministers.

According to Ministry of External Affairs, cross-border infiltration, terrorism, concerns about fake currency and narcotics smuggling from Pakistan will be the focus area of Singh’s talks with his Pakistani counterpart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan during the conference in Islamabad.

The Home Minister has already pointed fingers at Pakistan for stoking unrest in Kashmir following the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani. The violence has claimed nearly 50 lives and left hundreds injured.

Singh is the first Indian Minister to visit Pakistan after the Pathankot attack in January, and at a time when Kashmir is on the boil.The SAARC leadership had agreed in 2005 during the 13th summit in Dhaka that Home/Interior Ministers of the SAARC nations may meet annually to strengthen cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism. The first meeting of Home/Interior Ministers was held in Dhaka on May 11, 2006.

Such meetings discuss regional cooperation on a number of security-related matters and take stock of progress in various regional mechanisms.

“Our participation is in the context of our 'neighbourhood first' policy and our commitment to regional cooperation within the SAARC framework. The meeting also provides an opportunity to underline the high importance we attach to achieving forward movement on security cooperation in the region,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

Meanwhile, in the wake of protests called by several Pakistan based militant groups including Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan government is learnt to have decided to give “presidential-level security” — its highest security — to Rajnath Singh when he visits Islamabad.

The ‘presidential-level security’ means deployment of about 200 personnel, including commandos from Pakistan’s elite Special Forces. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to discuss security arrangements.

Normally, a visiting Home Minister gets ministerial-level security. But, New Delhi asked Islamabad for ‘elevation of Singh’s security.

Singh will stay at a luxury hotel in Pakistan’s high security zone where the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Ministry and diplomatic enclave are located within a kilometre’s radius. The SAARC Home Ministers meeting is also likely to take place at the same venue, which has a three-layer security.