Speaking today at a meeting of interior ministers organised by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Islamabad, India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh came down strongly on nations that support any form of terrorism.
"There are no good terrorists or bad terrorists. Terrorism is terrorism," Singh said in his address to the conclave. "There should be strongest of action not only against terrorists but also against organisations, individuals and nations who support terror," he added.
Alluding to the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in Kashmir, following which Pakistan had declared him a "martyr", Singh emphasised that "there should be no glorification or eulogising of terrorists as martyrs".
It was the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who had praised Wani last month and described him as a martyr. Observing 19 July as a 'Black Day' to support the people of Kashmir, Sharif had said Pakistan would "continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support for Kashmiris in their just struggle for right to self-determination." He added that Pakistanis were waiting for the day when Kashmir would become a part of their country. India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had retaliated at Pakistan, saying "its Kashmir dream will never be fulfilled till the end of eternity."
The tension between the home ministers of India and Pakistan was palpable at the SAARC meeting as the two, reportedly, barely shook hands. According to sources, Singh also gave a lunch hosted by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, his Pakistani counterpart, a miss, though this has not been confirmed by the Indian delegation.
Yesterday, on his arrival in Islamabad, Singh was greeted with protests by terror groups and civil society activists, who blamed him for the unrest in Kashmir. Since Wani's death on 8 July, Kashmir has been on the boil, with nearly 50 people dead in clashes with the army, and thousands injured or missing.
At the SAARC meet, Singh, however, minced no words. He said there should be strong action against "individuals, organisations and nations" that aid and abet terrorism — merely condemning such activities is not enough.
Khan, as The Tribune reported, retorted by calling the violence perpetrated by Indian security forces on Kashmiris "terrorism". "The violence being committed against the innocent people of Indian-held Kashmir is open terrorism," he said during his address. "We have always wished to work in close cooperation with all our neighbours and we believe all pending issues can be addressed through dialogue," Khan observed earlier, adding that Pakistan has suffered heavy losses in its fight against terrorism.
According to ANI, Singh's speech was blacked out and media personnel weren't allowed to cover it. The Indian Express reported that a BBC reporter in Pakistan said even Nisar's speech was not aired by media channels.
(Written with agency reports)
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