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Jaitley to skip Saarc meet in Islamabad

Wed 17 Aug 2016, 11:40:59
Union Minister Arun Jaitley will skip the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) conference of finance ministers in Islamabad next week.
The decision was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the wake of Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s “not-so-pleasant” experience at the Saarc interior/home ministers conference in Islamabad on August 4 and 5.
Secretary for Economic Affairs Shaktikanta Das will now lead a team of officials for the conference scheduled for August 25 and 26. Modi’s decision is set to send the relations between India and Pakistan plummeting further. At his Independence Day address on Monday, the prime minister had signalled an aggressive line on India’s policy against Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir.
Though the decision came to light after his Red Fort address, Modi had apparently made up his mind soon after Singh recounted his experience in Islamabad, sources said. In fact, Singh went straight to the prime minister’s office after landing in New Delhi to give him a first-hand account of what transpired during the 24 hours he spent in the Pakistani capital.
Sources said Modi decided not to allow a repeat of what Singh had experienced. The prime minister felt the visit had left a sense of distaste among the diplomats and officials. As the issue of disrespect to Singh was raised by the Opposition in Parliament recently, Singh did not mince words in conveying that he was not treated well in Pakistan.
“It is true that Pakistan Interior Minister (Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan) invited everyone for lunch. But then he left in his car. I also left. I have no complaints or grudges as I had not gone there to have lunch,” Singh told the Rajya Sabha.
He also stated the Indian media was not allowed to cover the conference. The Pakistani media was even fed with unfounded stories that Singh used the toilet six to eight times to use his mobile to take “instructions” from New Delhi.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was quoted as saying on Tuesday that “going to Pakistan is like going to hell.” Parrikar was speaking at a rally in Rewari, Haryana.

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