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No blackout of Rajnath speech in Islamabad, says New Delhi

India on Thursday described reports of a blackout of Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement during the SAARC ministerial meeting 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. It is the standard SAARC practice that the opening statement by the host country is public and open to the media while the rest of the proceedings are in camera, which allows for a full and frank discussion of issues,” a government source said.

The reaction came after there were reports that Mr. Singh’s speech was reportedly blacked out as media organisations were not allowed to cover the 7th SAARC Home/Interior Ministers meeting.

The only broadcaster allowed inside the venue was state-owned Pakistan Television, the reports said.

Meanwhile in Islamabad, an Interior Ministry official also said that there was no such blackout of Mr. Singh’s speech as none of the speeches of participating Ministers was shown.

“It is true that his (Mr. Singh’s) speech was not shown live because (the) speech(es) of none of the participating ministers was shown live by the state media.”

He said only the inaugural session was shown live when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan made welcome speeches.

The official said Mr. Singh was not discriminated at all by the state media and he was given full official protocol

Skips lunch hosted by Pakistan counterpart

Mr. Singh skipped a lunch hosted by his Pakistani counterpart Mr. Khan after the host himself failed to turn up at the venue.

Mr. Khan had organised the lunch for the dignitaries attending the conference, and scheduled it after the main meeting.

However, he left immediately after the meeting got over despite being the host of the lunch. Mr. Singh then took the decision to skip the lunch.

The Home Minister later had his lunch at his hotel room along with the members of the accompanying Indian delegation.

After the lunch, Mr. Singh left for India.

The ongoing strain in India-Pakistan relations was also evident at the conference when Mr. Singh came face-to-face with Mr. Khan for the first time on Thursday and the two leaders barely shook hands.

As Mr. Singh arrived at the venue of the conference at the posh Serena Hotel in Islamabad, Mr. Khan was at the gate to receive the dignitaries. The two leaders barely touched their hands, not even a formal handshake, before Mr. Singh moved ahead to enter the meeting hall.


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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 8:52:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/No-blackout-of-Rajnath-speech-in-Islamabad-says-New-Delhi/article14550951.ece

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