Islamabad: Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived here to attend the SAARC Interior Ministers’ conference being held tomorrow during which he is expected to raise the issue of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, designated as global terrorist, and cross border terrorism.
Singh, who arrived here this evening on his maiden visit to Pakistan, has been accorded tight security amid threats from Lashker-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen terror groups against his visit.
The Home Minister was flown in a helicopter to the Serena hotel located in posh Islamabad locality. It is also the venue of tomorrow’s meeting where Singh will be underlining the need for meaningful cooperation among South Asian countries.
Roads leading to the hotel have been heavily barricaded by the police and para-military forces to ward off any threat from terror groups. In the past, there have been instances when terrorists rammed explosive-laden trucks into the hotels.
Despite tight security, around 100 people gathered outside the hotel shouting anti-India slogans and protested against Singh’s visit.
LeT founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen Chief Syed Salahuddin had warned of a nationwide protest if Singh arrives in Islamabad to attend the SAARC ministerial conference which would be inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Before leaving for Islamabad to attend the day-long SAARC Home Ministers’ Conference, Singh said he was “looking forward to underscore the imperative of meaningful cooperation within the region against terrorism and organised crime.”
“This conference provides a platform to discuss issues pertaining to security,” said Singh, who is expected to tell Pakistan to stop sponsoring terror in India and rein in groups like Lashker-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
India has been demanding handing over of Dawood, who has been designated as a global terrorist by the anti-terror body of the United Nations, for running an organised crime syndicate from Pakistan.
Tomorrow’s meeting is preceded by the 7th Meeting of the SAARC Interior/Home Secretaries which is being held today. The Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, who is leading the Indian delegation, arrived here yesterday.
There is little possibility of Singh having a bilateral meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the wake of strain in Indo-Pak relations after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in Jammu and Kashmir on July 8.
Not only did Prime Minister Sharif praise Wani but he also remarked that “Kashmir will one day become Pakistan”, a comment which evoked a sharp reaction from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who said his dream of the state becoming a part of his country “will not be realised even at the end of eternity”.