IN A message aimed at Pakistan, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said terrorists should not be “eulogised as martyrs” under any circumstances, and the “strongest possible” steps should be taken against countries that support terrorism.
Singh was speaking at the 7th SAARC Interior and Home Ministers’ Conference in Islamabad.
His comments come in the wake of violent protests in Kashmir over the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had praised Wani and called him a martyr. Besides observing July 19 as a ‘Black Day’ to support the people of Kashmir, Sharif had said Pakistan would “continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support for Kashmiris”.
“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. 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,” said Singh.
“It also needs to be ensured that terrorism is not patronised by any state. 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,” he said.
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.”
“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,” said Singh. “No type of terrorism or support to it can be justified on any grounds whatsoever. Immediate and effective action is required against all those who support or encourage international terrorism in any way, whether they are state actors or non-state. Only then justice will be ensured for the victims of terrorist attacks such as in Mumbai and Pathankot,” he said.
Singh called for implementation of the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and its Additional Protocol, saying that it was “crucial” in the common fight against terrorism. The Convention includes ensuring effective measures so that those committing terrorist acts do not escape prosecution and punishment, and are extradited or prosecuted.
The home minister called for immediate ratification of the SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. “We have not been able to benefit from the Convention, as some member states are yet to ratify it,” he said.
He also spoke on the misuse of digital technology amplifying the menace of terrorism, drug trafficking, circulation of fake currency, and safety and security of women and children.
Singh, who was part of the joint delegation of home ministers of SAARC countries that called on Sharif at his office on Thursday, thanked the Pakistani government “for excellent arrangements made for hosting this meeting, and for the outstanding hospitality extended to me and my delegation.”
However, after the conference, Singh skipped a lunch hosted by his counterpart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan when the host himself left the venue immediately after the meeting.
Meanwhile, India said reports of a “blackout” of Singh’s speech were “misleading”. “With reference to the home ministers’ meeting in Islamabad earlier today, media reports of a ‘blackout’ of our home minister’s statement are misleading,” said a government source.
“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,” the source said.