Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday to attend the Saarc Home/Interior Ministers' conference which will be held on Thursday, where he will focus on Dawood Ibrahim, designated as global terrorist, and cross-border terrorism.
Singh, who arrived in Islamambad on Wednesday evening, on his maiden visit to Pakistan, has been accorded tight security amid threats from Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen terror groups.
More than 2,000 activists of various religious and jihadi outfits in Pakistan protested against the visit of Singh, accusing him for the unrest in Kashmir. Mishal Malik — the wife of Yasin Malik, Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front — had led a token protest against Rajnath Singh's visit in front of the National Press Club.
HM Rajnath Singh's visit triggers protests across Pak(Pic:Yasin Malik's wife leads token hunger strike in Islamabad) pic.twitter.com/Mkgtr3Aw07
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 4, 2016
Despite tight security arrangements, around 100 people gathered outside Singh's hotel shouting anti-India slogans protesting his visit.
On Wednesday, a group of All Parties Hurriyat Conference workers also held a protest in Rawalpindi against Singh's arrival in the country to attend the conference.
The protesters shouted anti-India slogans in Faizabad area of Rawalpindi, around 20 km from Islamabad where the two-day Saarc conference is being held.
On Tuesday, a JuD caravan led by Talha Saeed, the son of Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, had staged a sit-in at the Line of Control near Chakothi in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), where they were stopped by Pakistani security forces.
The protesters on Wednesday continued their sit-in, demanding that India receives relief materials brought by them for Kashmiris.
A JuD statement said that it has no plans to leave the place unless India receives relief goods, dry food and medicines for the Kashmiris.
Hafiz Abdur Rauf, chief of Falayh-i-Insaniat Foundation, a sister organisation of JuD, said many doctors and paramedical staff were also present in the sit-in.
"These doctors and para-medical staff want to go Srinagar to treat our injured Kashmiri brethren," he said.
Hizbul Mujahideen chief Sayeed Salahudin is also holding a protest sit-in in Islamabad against the Indian minister's arrival. Earlier Salahudin had warned a nation-wide protest against Singh's visit. LeT founder Hafiz Saeed had also warned of a nationwide protest if Singh arrived in Islamabad to attend the Saarc conference which will be inaugurated by Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. He said, "It will be ironical as on the one hand the whole Pakistani nation is protesting against the Indian atrocities in Kashmir and on the other hand the Pakistani rulers will be garlanding Singh."
Salahuddin had accused Singh of being a "killer of Kashmiris" and urged Islamabad to recall its envoy from India over the ongoing unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing Pakistani media at the party headquarters in Mansura Auditorium in Lahore, Salahuddin had criticised the Nawaz Sharif-led government's policy on Kashmir.
He said, "The rulers should give up hypocrisy and the Pakistan government should either plead the case of Kashmiris or make friends with India."
The protests come in the backdrop of surge in violence in Jammu and Kashmir which has escalated tension between the two countries.
More than 50 people have been killed and over 3,000 wounded in the current bout of violence in Jammu and Kashmir following the killing of Burhan Wani, a commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.
He has been declared a "martyr" by Islamabad while India has branded him a "terrorist".
Before leaving for Islamabad to attend Saarc, Singh said he was "looking forward to underscore the imperative of meaningful cooperation within the region against terrorism and organised crime."
"This conference provides a platform to discuss issues pertaining to security," said Singh, who is expected to tell Pakistan to stop sponsoring terror in India and rein in groups like Lashker-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
With inputs from agencies