India on Thursday delivered a blunt message to Pakistan asking it to stop encouraging terror groups and “glorification” of terrorists and also called for “strongest action” against nations supporting terrorism and their isolation.
Without mincing any words amid the strain in India-Pakistan relations, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said mere condemnation of terrorism and terrorists is not enough and that there are “no good terrorists or bad terrorists“.
Singh in his address to the 7th SAARC Interior/Home Ministers meeting said terrorism continued to remain the biggest challenge and threat to the region.
The strain in the ties between the two neighbours was apparently evident when Mr. Singh came face-to-face with his Pakistan counterpart Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan for the first time on Thursday. The two leaders barely touched their hands, not even a formal handshake, before Mr. Singh moved ahead to enter the meeting hall. Members of the Indian media, which came from New Delhi to report the conference, were not allowed to capture the moment or the conference and was kept at a distance by Pakistani officials, leading to a verbal duel between a senior Indian official and a Pakistani official.
The Home Minister also skipped the lunch being hosted by Mr. Khan after the meeting as the host had left the venue.
Speaking in Hindi at the conference, Singh said there should be “strongest action not only against terrorists or organisations but also against those individuals, organisations and nations who support terrorism.”
“It also needs to be ensured that terrorism is not glorified and is not patronised by any state,” Mr. Singh said in a veiled dig at Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Singh’s comments came against the backdrop of Sharif’s praise of Burhan Wani who was killed in an encounter in Jammu and Kashmir on July 8, 2016 and his description of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander as a martyr, much to India’s ire.
“One country’s terrorist cannot be a martyr or freedom fighter for anyone. I also speak for the entire humanity — not just for India or other SAARC members — in urging that in no circumstances should terrorists be eulogised as martyrs.”
Calling for isolation of countries or individuals who provide any kind of support, encouragement, sanctuary, safe haven or any assistance to terrorists, he said “strongest possible steps need to be taken not only against terrorists and terrorist organisations but also those individuals, institutions, organisations or nations that support them.
“Only this will ensure that the forces engaged in promoting the heinous crime of terrorism against humanity are effectively countered.”
Stressing for greater regional prosperity and cooperation between South Asian countries, Mr. Singh, however, said that mounting threats and terror incidents endanger region’s peace and stability.
“Terrorism remains the biggest challenge and threat to our peace. South Asia continues to be deeply affected by this malady, as witnessed most recently in cowardly terrorist attacks in Pathankot, Dhaka, Kabul and other places,” Singh said after listening to Sharif and Khan.
“Merely strong condemnation of such terrorist attacks is not enough. We must harden our resolve to eradicate this menace and also take serious steps to this end,” he said without mincing words.
The Home Minister also touched upon the issue of countries providing safe haven to terrorists and other criminals.
Singh said the will and the mandate of international community against proscribed and wanted terrorists and their outfits must also be respected and implemented.
“If we are to rid ourselves of terrorism, we will have to genuinely believe that attempts to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorists are misleading,” he said, adding no type of terrorism or support to it can be justified on any grounds whatsoever.