India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived here on Wednesday to attend a conference of home ministers from countries belonging to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
He is the first Indian high-level official to come to Pakistan since December 2015, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Lahore to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
However, the sources said that there would be no one-on-one meeting between Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan.
His visit comes in the backdrop of growing strains on Pakistan-India ties as tensions flared between the nuclear-armed rivals over unrest in Indian occupied Kashmir.
Earlier in the day, meeting of SAARC Interior/Home Ministers, the Interior Secretaries from the member states met to review the progress made so far on agreed areas of cooperation and to finalise recommendations and proposals suggesting a way forward for further strengthening of mutual cooperation through sharing of knowledge, experiences and expertise to overcome challenges facing the region.
A statement issued here said the suggestions would be placed before the Interior Ministers for their consideration and decisions.
As per the SAARC practice, the meeting elected Interior Secretary of Pakistan Arif Ahmed Khan as the chairman of the 7th meeting of SAARC Interior Secretaries.
In his remarks, Arif welcomed the delegations to Pakistan and thanked them for electing him as the chairperson of the meeting.
He said it is a matter of pride that the SAARC countries represent a region that shares common borders and cultural similarities.
Arif said we are not only tied by geographical proximities but also with historical linkages, adding our shared challenges demand a collective response and SAARC provides the member states an exceptional platform to share and benefit from the wisdom and experience of each other.
He observed that the mandate of the SAARC Interior/Home Secretaries’ meeting covers a range of important issues related to terrorism, corruption, narcotics and psychotropic substances, maritime piracy and other similar issues.
The Interior Secretary said the meeting will also be discussing the conventions on suppression of terrorism and the additional protocol and convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters.
Stressing upon the need for greater cooperation, Arif noted that although significant progress has been made in the related areas since the 6th meeting of SAARC Interior/Home Secretaries that was held in September 2014 in Kathmandu, a sizeable amount of work is still to be done by this forum.
He expressed the hope that result-oriented recommendations of Interior Secretaries would help Interior/Home Ministers of the SAARC countries to take decisions in the greater interest of the region and the people of the member states.
He also commended the immigration authorities from the SAARC member states for their valuable input and said that their recommendations will add an impetus to the ongoing process of forging greater cooperation among the SAARC member states.
Arif also thanked secretary general SAARC Arjun Bahadur Thapa, and his technical team for their efforts and contribution in holding of the 7th meeting of SAARC Interior Ministers. -Business Recorder