Pakistan’s restrictive approach won’t promote Saarc ties: India

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New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) India on Friday said Pakistan’s “restrictive approach” in denying visas to Indian journalists to cover a Saarc event in Islamabad went against the sentiment for closer ties between the member countries of the regional grouping.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup’s remarks came amid a raging controversy after Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s two-day visit to Pakistan for a Saarc ministerial meeting.

“The media that accompanied the Home Minister was not in the (meeting) room and a number of you who had applied for visas (to cover the event) did not get visas.

“Naturally this restrictive approach by Pakistan even for a multilateral event is not helpful in promoting close ties between Saarc countries.”

Indian journalists accompanying the Home Minister to Islamabad on Thursday were denied entry inside the venue hall where Rajnath Singh lashed out at Pakistan over its alleged support to terrorism.

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Reports said that the Pakistan government censored Rajnath Singh’s speech and didn’t allow it to be covered live.

However, the External Affairs Ministry on Thursday evening clarified that it not allowing a live coverage of a Saarc ministerial meeting was a norm and the reports of a “blackout” of our the Home Minister’s statement were “misleading”.

Rajnath Singh earlier told parliament that he was not aware if it was a norm or a deliberate attempt by Pakistan not to air his speech live. He said he needed to speak to the External Affairs Ministry over it.

Swarup said: “In so far as the practices regarding the live coverage of such Saarc meetings is concerned, this was clarified yesterday and we would naturally defer to the Saarc secretariat in such matters.”

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