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UNION Home Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Islamabad to attend the SAARC Interior Home Ministers’ conference, beginning August 3, where he will raise the issue of sustained cross-border infiltration from Pakistan and terror attacks on India that are planned and launched from Pakistani soil.
Sources said that during his two-day visit, the first by any senior Indian leader after the Pathankot attack, Singh is expected to convey “in strong terms” India’s expectation that Pakistan should crack down on terror groups operating from its soil.
Home Ministry officials said Singh is also expected to cite documentary evidence of the involvement of Pakistan’s state and non-state actors in terror attacks in Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of the country if there are separate meetings with his Pakistan counterpart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The issue of slow place of probe into Pathankot attack, carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed, and 26/11 Mumbai terror attack trial will also be raised at the meetings, they said.
However, when asked if the Home Minister will hold a bilateral meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup, said: “There is no such proposal. He (Rajnath) is going for a multilateral SAARC event.”
On what kind of signal India, which has postponed resumption of bilateral dialogue in wake of the Pathankot attack, was giving by sending the Home Minister to Pakistan, Swarup said, “Our participation is in the context of our ‘neighbourhood first’ policy and our commitment to regional cooperation within the SAARC framework.”
“The meeting also provides an opportunity for us to underline the high importance we attach to achieving forward movement on security cooperation in the region,” he added.
He reiterated that India wants peaceful, cooperative relations with Pakistan and is prepared to discuss all outstanding issues in an atmosphere free of terror.
Singh will be accompanied by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and other senior officers. The three-tier meeting will begin at the level of the joint secretary and then progress to secretary and minister-level meetings.
At the SAARC meet, coordinate and comprehensive efforts to counter terrorism and drug and arms trade will be discussed. Increased collaboration between security agencies of the SAARC countries and intelligence sharing will also be on the agenda.