Ministry of External Affairs today clarified that Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Islamabad is purely for the SAARC event and there will be no bilateral meetings with Pakistan during his visit next month.
“Let me categorically state that Home Minister is going for SAARC event. There will be no bilateral meetings with Pakistan,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
Singh will travel to Islamabad on August 3 to participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meeting of Home/Interior Ministers.
The MEA had earlier said that not much should be read into the visit as the only purpose of the visit is to “participate in the multilateral event”.
“We want peaceful relations with Pakistan. But talks can happen only in an environment without terror,” Swarup had said.
Agency reports had earlier said that Singh, apart from attending the SAARC meet, may hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from other SAARC member-countries including Pakistan’s Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
However, the Ministry of External Affairs has now clarified that no such bilateral meeting is scheduled with Pakistan.
Singh will be accompanied by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and several other senior officers of his ministry.
Yesterday, PTI reported that Singh will raise Pakistan's sustained support to cross-border terrorism during his two-day visit.
Singh is also expected to bluntly ask Pakistan to stop sponsoring acts of terror in India, official sources said.
This will be the first visit to Pakistan by any senior Indian leader after the Pathankot attack on January 2, which created tension between the two countries.
The Home Minister may provide documentary proof of the involvement of Pakistan's state and non-state actors in terror acts in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts.
Describing Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in Kashmir as "martyr", Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had recently said that "Kashmir will one day become Pakistan", prompting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to say that his dream of the state becoming a part of his country "will not be realised even at the end of eternity".
Singh will also raise the issue of slow pace of probe into terror attack in the Pathankot airbase, which was carried out by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad, and the the trial into the Mumbai terror attack case in that country, sources said.
Key issues like fight against terrorism, illegal trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and small arms and how to make coordinated and concerted efforts to combat such menace will figure in the SAARC meet.
The three-tier meeting will begin at the joint secretary-level and then move on to Secretary and Home Minister-level meetings. The meeting will also focus on strengthening networking among police authorities of SAARC member-countries and also enhance information-sharing among law enforcement agencies.
The last meeting of SAARC Interior/Home Ministers' conference was held in Kathmandu in 2014 when the Home Minister had said that member-nations of the group were facing common challenges and they should cooperate with each other to address them.