Kashmir tension casts shadow over Saarc meet in Islamabad

Islamabad, Aug 4 (IANS) Tensions between Pakistan and India over Kashmir were apparent during the Saarc ministerial meet here on Thursday as Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan slammed the “use of excessive force”, while Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh criticised the “glorification of terrorists as martyrs”.

At the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) conference of Interior/Home Ministers here, though both sides did not rake up the Kashmir issue, the reference to it was as clear as daylight.

“Using torture against innocent children and violence against civilians qualifies as terrorism,” said Nisar Ali Khan, adding that there was a need to end an “extremist” mindset and to try instead to solve regional issues with dialogue.

The reference was to the ongoing unrest in the Kashmir Valley since July 8 in which over 50 people have been killed in clashes with security forces and thousands injured.

In response to Nisar Ali Khan, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh made a more direct statement over the Pakistan government’s condemnation of the killing of Hizbul militant commander Burhan Wani in Kashmir that led to the unrest.

“There are no good terrorists or bad terrorists,” said Rajnath Singh in his address, referring to earlier criticism the Indian state has levelled against Pakistan. “There should be no glorification or eulogising of terrorists as martyrs.”

Rajnath Singh called for “strongest action not only against terrorists or organisations but also against those individuals, organisations and nations which support terrorism.”

No bilateral meeting between the Indian minister and his Pakistani counterpart took place on the sidelines of the Saarc ministerial conference that ended on Thursday, said Dawn online.

Pakistan observed a Black Day last month to protest the deaths in Jammu and Kashmir and also termed Wani as a “martyr”.

Earlier in the conference, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assured the Saarc member-states that Pakistan will stand alongside its South Asian neighbours in eradicating corruption, organised crime and terrorism from the region.

–IANS

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