Won’t talk to my Pak counterpart: Rajnath

SRINAGAR: The worsening civil unrest in Pakistan comes handy when Indian leadership wants to walk out of the dialogue process. As the political turmoil in Islamabad worsened, the Home Ministry Monday denied news reports that Rajnath Singh would meet his Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of a SAARC conference in Nepal later this month.   

“The HM is of the firm opinion that terror & talks cannot go together. Unless Pakistan stops terrorism and violence no dialogue is possible,” the home ministry tweeted Monday, dismissing the news reports as “incorrect and fabricated.”

The statement from the Home Ministry came a day after Singh slammed Pakistan for repeatedly violating ceasefire along the Indo-Pak border and straining the bilateral ties.

Earlier, addressing a rally in Haryana’s Palval on Sunday, Union Home Minister had asserted that India wanted good and peaceful relations with its neighbor but if the violations continued then the Indian Army wouldl strongly retaliate.

“Wanting peaceful relations with all countries should not be treated as India’s weakness,” Rajnath said and added that security forces have been directed to give a “befitting” reply to ceasefire violations by Pakistan.

Referring to recent incidents of firing from across the Line of Control, the Home Minister said he has directed BSF “not to keep showing white flag” if the violations by Pakistan continue. “I have asked the BSF DG to tell his force to give a befitting reply to firing from Pakistan,” Singh said, addressing BJP’s ‘Vijay Sankalp Yatra’ at Hathin in Haryana’s Palwal district.

The Union Minister said that he was informed by the BSF DG that “we have on 15 occasions shown white flags, but Pakistan is repeatedly indulging in firing”.

“We are not weak, we are fully capable of giving a befitting reply to Pakistan if they continue to violate ceasefire,” he said.

Dates for the Home Ministers’ conference in Kathmandu have not been finalized yet, but the meeting of eight neighbors, members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation or SAARC could be held from September 17 to 19, sources said.

Apart from India and Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives are SAARC members. Bilateral meetings are often held at such conferences.

Relations have been frosty with Pakistan ever since India called off talks last month after Islamabad’s envoy to Delhi insisted on holding consultations with Kashmiri separatist leaders days before the foreign secretaries of the two countries were to meet.

Multiple ceasefire violations by Pakistan since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over in May has added to the tension. The chief of the border security force said last week that Pakistan’s attacks on Indian posts in recent weeks is “the heaviest cross-border firing I’ve seen since the 1971 war.”

Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Jammu and Kashmir, where he accused Pakistan of using militants to conduct “a proxy war” against India. Pakistan said that the charges were “baseless” and that India should steer clear of “a blame game.”

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