Jaitley “unlikely” to attend SAARC meet in Pakistan

RSTV Bureau

PM-n-JaitleyAmid steep speculations throughout the day, reports are coming in that Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to visit Pakistan to attend the two-day conference of SAARC Finance Ministers later this month mainly due to “political reasons”. The conference is scheduled to be held in Islamabad on August 25-26.

“It is due to political reasons that the Finance Minister may not visit Pakistan. You all know what happened last time and what is happening,” highly placed sources said, referring to Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Islamabad earlier this month, which was also for a SAARC Ministerial meeting.

Barbs were exchanged between Singh and Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who only had a tense and uneasy handshake during the SAARC meeting.

Further, the Pakistani authorities did not allow entry of Indian mediapersons, including those from PTI and Doordarshan, inside the venue of 7th SAARC Home Ministers Meeting in Islamabad.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh (R) at the inaugural session of 7th SAARC Home/ Interior Ministers meeting in Islamabad on Thursday.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh (R) at the inaugural session of 7th SAARC Home/ Interior Ministers meeting in Islamabad on Thursday.

Informing Rajya Sabha post his visit, Rajnath Singh told that after the meeting was over, Pakistan’s Home Minister, who was the host, invited the participants for lunch but left in a car soon thereafter.

“Keeping in mind the country’s prestige, I did what I should have done. I have no complaints. I had not gone there for lunch,” he had said.

That apart, in his Independence Day address to the nation yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that India will not bow before terrorism, and also brought up Pakistani atrocities on people of Baluchistan and PoK, saying that they have thanked him for doing so.

Though the Prime Minister did not make any reference to Kashmir valley, which is witnessing a cycle of violence after the killing of Hizbul Commander Burhan Wani, he accused Pakistan of glorifying terrorists and celebrating killings in India.

Pakistan’s Finance Ministry in a recent statement had said the country would play the role of a “good host” and try to keep the overall ambiance positive.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation. Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

(With inputs from the PTI)