Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Islamabad to attend the SAARC Home Ministers meeting is on track, say security officials even as they are tracking the security measures at Islamabad’s Serena Hotel and at the Convention Centre where Mr. Singh is expected to attend the meetings.
Speaking to The Hindu , a day after Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed threatened to ban Mr. Singh’s entry into Islamabad, an official said, that they have taken adequate security preparation for Mr. Singh’s visit to Islamabad.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said, “If any security issue arises, it is Pakistan’s responsibility to deal with,” emphasising that the Mr. Singh will attend the meet. “Mr. Singh is going to Pakistan for SAARC Home Ministers’ conference. It’s a multi-lateral meeting, not bilateral talks,” Mr. Rijiju said reminding Pakistan’s of its security obligations to SAARC.
The visit by Mr. Singh will be the first time that a high-level visit from India will take place since Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Lahore in December 2015 starting a dialogue process which was disrupted by the January 2 Pathankot airbase attack which froze India-Pakistan bilateral ties and stalled the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.
No bilateral talks
The Ministry of External Affairs has maintained that no bilateral dialogue would be held during Mr. Singh’s visit to Islamabad.
However, Home Ministry officials have told The Hindu that they have been working on an agenda paper for the possible bilateral talk with Pakistan which includes the visit of the National Investigation Agency team to Pakistan to investigate the attack on Pathankot airbase.
However, the threat from Saeed has also drawn a strong response from Pakistani experts with some saying that it does not deserve the importance that it has been given.
“Under the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Hafiz Saeed has been a dead force. He does not command any influence in the government which has maintained that it wants to have a dialogue with India. So he will not cast a shadow on the meeting. Pakistan will use the meeting to strike a balance between reviving the right vibes for the Composite Bilateral Dialogue and the recent crackdown in Kashmir,” said Dr. Najam Rafique of Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.