Home ministers’ moot: India sticks to no bilateral meetings at SAARC huddle

Shiv Sena activists burn a poster of Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi to protest his scheduled visit to Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

Shiv Sena activists burn a poster of Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi to protest his scheduled visit to Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI: India once again reiterated on Tuesday there would be no bilateral meetings between Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, a day before the former travels to Islamabad for a SAARC meeting.

Singh will be the first high-level Indian official to visit Pakistan from India since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Lahore in December 2015.

Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed has warned of countrywide protests in Pakistan if the Indian home minister is allowed to attend the SAARC home ministerial conference in Islamabad.

India’s parliament, currently in session for the monsoon session, took up the issue of the threats hurled against Singh, with Minister of State for Home Affairs Kieren Rijiju once again ruling out any pull-aside bilateral meetings with Pakistani officials on the SAARC meeting sidelines.

“If any security issue arises, it is Pakistan’s responsibility to deal with it,” Rijiju told reporters. “The Saarc meeting is a multilateral meeting, not bilateral talks. There are some commitments. He (Singh) is not going to give some message or having a separate meeting with (the) Pakistani home minister.”

Official sources say that Singh is unlikely to meet Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan separately, as top ranks of the government feel the time is not right for a bilateral meeting.

The sources added that the delegation members of India have been cut back and a dossier on recent terror attacks in Kashmir, where Pakistan link was allegedly established, may not be handed over to Islamabad. Worries have risen after the call for protest by Hafiz Saeed and others against Singh’s visit. But NDTV reported that the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) was sure the Pakistani authorities would foil the plans of JuD.

Terming Saeed’s plans of marching towards the Attari-Wagah border when Singh steps on Pakistani soil a ‘political’ move, BSF chief KK Sharma said the border guarding forces on both sides would ensure the SAARC home ministers’ moot was not disrupted.

“I am very sure my counterparts Pakistan Rangers are more than competent to handle this issue. I am sure this [Saeed’s threat)] is not going to disrupt the SAARC meeting,” he added. Singh’s visit comes amid a surge of violence in Indian Kashmir.

Meanwhile, firing by the Indian border force killed a Pakistani in the Shakargarh sector of Narowal.

Pakistani shepherd identified as Iqbal Ejaz was grazing his cattle in the Bhaki Wand area of Kasur when he accidentally crossed the border. He was immediately shot dead by the BSF personnel.

The Indian soldiers took away the body, which was later handed over to the family after Pakistani Rangers protested.

Original news : http://tribune.com.pk/story/1154869/home-ministers-moot-india-sticks-no-bilateral-meetings-saarc-huddle/