New Delhi: Marking the first visit by a senior Indian leader to Pakistan following the terror strike on the Pathankot Indian Airforce base and in the backdrop of tensions over Jammu and Kashmir running high, home minister Rajnath Singh will travel to Islamabad for the Saarc interior and home ministers conference on August 3.
The decision to allow Singh to travel to Pakistan at a time of heightened tensions could be intended to signal that New Delhi will fulfil its responsibilities in regional dialogues and neighbouring countries as Singh’s absence is bound to devalue the Saarc deliberations as India is the biggest member nation of the forum.
Sources in government told TOI that home minister will be going to Pakistan for the two-day conference and may also have bilateral meetings with senior figures in the Nawaz Sharif government. Though the occasion is the meeting of a multi-lateral forum, Singh’s visit will attract attention as it comes at a time India has been blunt in rejecting Pakistan’s “solidarity” with protests over the encounter death of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has directly addressed Pakistan PM Sharif, stating that the neighbour’s dream of annexing Kashmir was not going to be realised till eternity. India has asked Pakistan to stop its sponsorship of terrorist groups operating from its soil who have targeted India and fostered militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.
Earlier, there was a suspense over Singh’s visit and government was considering whether Singh should attend the conference in the wake of Pakistan’s statements on Jammu and Kashmir and its efforts to destabilize law and order.