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Rajnath flown to his hotel in a chopper amid security concerns in Islamabad

Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday to attend the SAARC Interior Ministers' conference and was flown to a five star hotel in a helicopter amid security concerns arising out of protests led by Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) activists, a front organisation of terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

Activists of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Hizbul Mujahideen, United Jihad Council (UJC) and other such group protested to denounce Mr. Singh's visit with Saeed leading a rally in Lahore where he attacked Pakistani government for hosting the Indian Home Minister, holding him responsible for the ongoing Kashmir unrest.

"We were not expecting that the Pakistani rulers would welcome Singh who is responsible for the killings of innocent Kashmiris," PTI quoted Saeed.

Mr. Singh, who arrived on a BSF aircraft at the Islamabad airport was received at the tarmac by Dr. Muhammad Faisal, Director General SAARC and South Asia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan. Though there is no convention for a ceremonial welcome for the home minister during a multilateral meeting, in 2010 when the then home minister P.Chidambaram visited Islamabad to attend the SAARC conference, he was received by his counterpart Abdul Rehman Malik at the airport. The Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale was also present at the airport.

Mr. Singh was accompanied by three members of his personal staff, including Officer on Special Duty (OSD) B.K Singh. Earlier, a senior home ministry official had said that the SAARC delegation had been scaled down this time as a “cost saving” measure.

India has already conveyed to Pakistan that Mr. Singh has threat from various terrorist organisations and that providing security to the minister is the State’s responsibility.

Before leaving for Islamabad, Mr. Singh posted on Twitter, “looking forward to underscore the imperative of meaningful cooperation within the region against terrorism and organised crime. his Conference provides a platform to discuss issues pertaining to security.

Even as Mr. Singh arrived in Pakistan, JuD posted several messages on various social media platforms about the ongoing protests in Pakistan.

Pakistan based Geo News quoted Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi that the “possibility of bilateral meeting (with Pakistan) looked bleak.”

The Dawn website reported that Tuesday's session discussed visas and immigration, including plans to reform the visa regime in the bloc.

“Wednesday's closed-door session with home ministers discussed counter-terrorism as well as strategies to counter human and drug trafficking. Visa reforms on the agenda included a more streamlined and centralised system to process visas between SAARC countries as well as the potential introduction of SAARC Visa Exemptions (SVEs) for three categories: officials, artists and businessmen,” the Dawn reported.

Wednesday’s meeting is preceded by the seventh Meeting of the SAARC Interior/Home Secretaries which was held Wednesday. The focus of the meeting will also be on strengthening networking among police forces of SAARC member-countries and also enhance information-sharing among law enforcement agencies.


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Printable version | May 18, 2022 9:00:14 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Rajnath-arrives-in-Pakistan-to-participate-in-SAARC-meeting/article60528576.ece