SAARC 2016: Reports Of A ‘Blackout’ Of Rajnath Singh’s Statement Are Misleading, Say Sources

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Earlier, various media reports had suggested that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s speech at the SAARC 2016 conference had been blacked out. However, a source clarified to ANI that reports of a blackout were false.

“With reference to HM’s meeting in Islamabad earlier today, media reports of a ‘blackout’ of our HM’s statement are misleading. It is the standard SAARC practice that the opening statement by the host country is public and open to the media. While the rest of the proceedings are in camera, which allows for a full and frank discussion of issues,” said ANI quoting sources.

During his terse speech, Singh launched a veiled attack on Pakistan, saying mere condemnation of terrorism and individual acts by terrorists was not enough. He categorically stated that there is no good or bad terrorist. Singh said that strongest action should be initiated not only against terrorists but also against organizations, individuals and nations supporting terror. However, Singh’s speech during the SAARC 2016 meet was blacked out. Members of the Indian media, who had come from New Delhi to report on the conference, were not allowed to cover the speech. They were reportedly kept at a distance by Pakistani officials.

Some reports said that there was an aggressive verbal exchange between officials of the two sides over the issue. Only Pakistan state PTV was allowed to cover introductory speeches of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan. Even private Pakistani media was not allowed to cover the SAARC 2016 event.

Media reports also said that his scheduled news conference at Delhi airport was cancelled. Singh arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday amid protests by supporters of the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Harkat ul Mujahideen. The protests were held at a distance of about 10 kilometers from the National Assembly. Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin was also present during the protests.

India and Pakistan are witnessing growing bitterness after Pakistan and its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made provocative statements on the Kashmir situation in the wake of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani’s killing on July 8. Not only did Sharif praise Wani but he also remarked that “Kashmir will one day become Pakistan”, a comment which evoked a sharp reaction from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who said his dream of the state becoming a part of his country “will not be realised even at the end of eternity”.

Further needling India, Pakistan has demanded an independent inquiry into the ‘extrajudicial’ killing of Wani and claimed that the denial of ‘plebiscite’ to Kashmiri people was behind the flare up in the Valley.

Source: DNA

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