New Delhi: Less than a week before the 18th SAARC meeting in Kathmandu, home minister Rajnath Singh categorically stated that Pakistan’s intelligence agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) was helping terrorists against India and the country was protecting Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and 1993 Mumbai blast accused Dawood Ibrahim.

“Is ISI not a state actor? Was Osama Bin Laden not hiding in Pakistan? Was Osama Bin Laden hiding without the knowledge of Pakistan? Are state actors not helping LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim?" said Rajnath Singh at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.

The 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit is scheduled to be held in Kathmandu on 26-27 November where it is expected that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif could meet.

On Sharif’s recent statement that Pakistan will continue to hold dialogue with Kashmir separatists, Singh said, “If Pakistan’s stand is clear then our stand is also clear. Pakistan should also talk about peace and friendly ties with India." The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had called off foreign secretary level talks in August this year after Pakistan met separatist leaders.

In his interaction, Singh admitted that the rise of the Iraq and Syria based terrorist organization ISIS was a challenge for India and it was using social media to spread its message in the country.

The home minister also emphasized that while BJP had not changed its stand on Article 370 and wanted a nationwide debate on whether it has helped development of people of Jammu and Kashmir, it was not an issue in the assembly elections in the state.

“Good governance and development of the state should be the issues in assembly elections. We want a debate on article 370 and people should debate if it has helped Jammu and Kashmir. We think article 370 has not helped people of the state," Singh said.

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