Jaitley likely to skip Saarc FMs' meeting after India-Pak spat

Finance minister Arun JaitleyFinance minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to visit Pakistan to attend the Saarc finance ministers' conference, after Islamad's tantrums during the Saarc home ministers' conference last month, when Pakistan blocked news media organisations from covering home minister Rajnath Singh's speech.

News agency ANI quoted government sources as saying that economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das will represent India at the two-day event scheduled to take place in Islamabad from 25 to 26 August.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh had taken part in the Saarc home ministers' conference where he called for tough action against terrorism and countries supporting it, saying terrorists should not be glorified as "martyrs".

"I did not see whether my speech was covered live or not. The media personnel from DD, ANI and PTI reporters who had come from India were not allowed to enter," Singh had said in Parliament.

Rajnath also made it clear that he was not treated well in Pakistan, confirming that he skipped a lunch hosted by his counterpart during the meeting of Saarc ministers.

"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," Rajnath Singh told the Rajya Sabha.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar also on Tuesday said going to Pakistan is like going to hell.

Parrikar, who was in Haryana`s Rewari to participate in Jara Yaad Karo Qurbaani programme, said, "Yesterday, our soldiers sent back five terrorists. Going to Pakistan is the same as going to hell."

He added that since Pakistan has failed to inflict major damage, it is looking to inflict smaller wounds, reported CNN-IBN.

"It is due to political reasons that the finance minister may not visit Pakistan. You all know what happened last time and what is happening," reports quoted official sources as saying.

Besides, in his Independence Day address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared that India will not bow before terrorism, and had brought up Pakistani atrocities on people of Baluchistan and PoK.

Though Modi did not make any reference to Kashmir valley, which is witnessing violence after the killing of Hizbul Commander Burhan Wani, he accused Pakistan of glorifying terrorists and celebrating killings in India.

Pakistan finance ministry officials have said that almost all regional countries, except Bangladesh, have confirmed their participation in the conference, which is taking place weeks after the Saarc home ministers' conference held last month.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) is a regional intergovernmental organisation. Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.