Indian officials have dismissed media reports that said Union Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh's speech at the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation ministerial meeting in Islamabad on Thursday was "blacked out". They said it was "standard SAARC practice" to ensure that only the opening statement of the host country is made public and allowed media coverage. "...Media reports of a 'blackout' of our home minister's statement are misleading...the rest of the proceedings are on camera, which allows for a full and frank discussion of issues," officials said, according to ANI.
Pakistan state television PTV was allowed to broadcast the introductory speeches of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. No media coverage of Singh's address was permitted, according to ANI.
At the event, Singh reportedly said that no terrorists should be glorified and referred to as martyrs. He emphasised that there was no good or bad terrorism and that "strongest action" must be taken "not only against terrorists, but against organisations, individuals and nations that support terror, as well", ANI reported.
Singh headed to the Islamabad airport shortly after his speech. He also cancelled the press briefing at Delhi airport that was to be held on his arrival in India. After his return, he briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader, whose visit to Pakistan saw protests on his arrival on Wednesday, further said that "mere condemnation of terrorists" would not suffice to fight extremism. His remarks on the glorification of terrorists of martyrs comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's repeated criticism of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in Jammu and Kashmir. Sharif also made repeated calls for a plebiscite among Kashmiris.
Singh's trip to Islamabad was not cancelled despite threats from separatist leaders and Jama'at-ud-Da'wah chief Hafiz Saeed. The home affairs minister is also expected to bring up the Pathankot airbase attack at the ministerial meeting.