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Rajnath takes a dig at Pakistan over SAARC meet

Taking pot-shots at the arrangements made by Pakistan for the SAARC conference in Islamabad, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament on Friday that he did not go there to have an “elaborate meal.”

Mr. Singh’s response came when he was asked by several Rajya Sabha members why he had boycotted the lunch hosted by his Pakistani counterpart, Chaudhry Nisar Ali.

Mr. Singh said after the meeting was over, Pakistan’s Home Minister, who was the host, invited the participants for lunch. However, Mr. Ali left the venue soon after.

“Keeping in mind the country’s prestige, I did what I should have done. I have no complaints. I had not gone there for an elaborate meal,” Mr. Singh said amid applause from members.

“I don’t want to comment on it. I have no qualms or complaints.”

The Minister however, remarked that, “India is known globally for its meheman nawaazi (hospitality).”

Anti-India protests

Mr. Singh said he saw anti-India protests on the streets of Islamabad. Several jihadi outfits led by the Lashkar front, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and Hizbul Mujahideen had organised protests across Pakistan against Mr. Singh’s visit, blaming him for the ongoing Kashmir unrest. “There were protests against India as well as my visit. Had I cared about the protests, I wouldn’t have gone to Pakistan at all. But, they protested. I didn’t get any opportunity to register my protest with the Pakistani authorities about this,” he said.

Making suo motu statements in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on his visit to Islamabad to attend the seventh SAARC Home Ministers’ Meeting, which concluded on Thursday, Mr. Singh said he had urged the members not to glorify terrorism or patronise it.

Mr. Singh’s speech drew a thunderous applause from all parties in Rajya Sabha.

“A terrorist in one nation cannot be a martyr or freedom fighter for anyone,” he said, adding that effective measures should be taken to ensure that those involved in terrorist actsare extradited so that they cannot escape prosecution. “Pakistan mentioned that they would act soon on these issues. I wonder how soon?” he said, informing Parliament about his speech in Islamabad

Recalling former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statement that one can change friends but not neighbours, Mr. Singh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his predecessor Manmohan Singh have expressed sympathy with Pakistan as it too has been a ‘victim of terror’. He said all Prime Ministers have tried to better ties with neighbours.

“But the dilemma is... padosi hai ki maanta hi nahi (the neighbour is not ready to change)...May God give sense to all,” he said, evoking laughter in the House.

Responding to questions in Rajya Sabha, Mr. Singh said. “The unity shown by the House on serious issues like terrorism reflects not only the unity of the House but unity of the country.”


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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 7:54:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Rajnath-takes-a-dig-at-Pakistan-over-SAARC-meet/article14553845.ece

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