ISLAMABAD: A veteran Indian politician and former diplomat has criticised Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s deviation from the SAARC agenda and his attempt to turn the regional forum into the “South Asian Association for Regional Confrontation”. According to him, Rajnath’s move gave a diplomatic victory to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. Sanity seems to be setting in, since Rajnath is being questioned at home for his tirade against Pakistan at the regional meeting. Former Indian parliamentarian Mani Shankar Aiyar in a recent article published by NDTV on its website titled “How Rajnath Singh’s Visit Has Given Pak The Clear Upper Hand” bashed India’s Number 2, Rajnath, for his diplomatic disappointment. He credited Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for skilfully using the SAARC platform to present Pakistan’s point of view to the regional countries and the world on the Kashmir freedom movement, Pakistan’s war against terrorism and Pakistan’s dialogue with India, in response to Rajnath’s engineered rhetoric aimed at Pakistan. In its article Mani Shankar Aiyar said, “Kudos to Home Minister Rajnath Singh on having transformed SAARC into the South Asian Association for Regional Confrontation.” He mentioned Rajnath’s poor show at SAARC, saying: “He had no constructive aims. He only wanted to show naive and impressionable Indian saffronites that he had the chutzpah to tick off the Pakistanis on their own soil. That may have won him some brownie points at home, but no one else was impressed.” The Indian writer pointed out how Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan presented Pakistan’s point of view at the SAARC forum, saying: “What is really unfortunate for us, however, is that what Nisar Ali Khan had said in response (to Rajnath speech) that ‘violence against freedom fighters in a disputed territory under Indian occupation is state-sponsored’.” The former Indian diplomat, writer of a book titled Mani Shankar Aiyar’s Pakistan Papers, asked, “Did India really want its partners in SAARC to hear such language directed at India?” Declaring it a diplomatic success for Pakistan, the writer mentioned Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s strategic depth into the subject and asked “do we (India) really want to hear the Pakistani Interior Minister telling SAARC and the whole world that ‘Pakistan is ready to engage in any dialogue process based on mutual respect and dignity with no strings attached’?” Aiyar added that Rajnath’s fable in Pakistan prompted the US to side with Pakistan where the US State Department’s deputy spokesman, Mark Toner, clearly maintained: “We advocate for closer cooperation, certainly, between India and Pakistan, to deal with the terrorist threat in both countries”. The writer explained how Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s stance was backed by the US, saying: “If that isn’t one in the eye for India, I would like to know what is. Rajnath’s position has been repudiated and Nisar Ali’s view has been reflected in the US State Department’s reaction to the SAARC Home Ministers’ meeting. Toner went on to make things even more explicit: ‘Terrorism is obviously a reality in both countries, and in order to effectively confront it, they need to work together’.” Declaring Indian home minister’s trip to Pakistan unfruitful, Aiyar maintained that the US had even barely backed India despite Rajnath’s effort to pitch India’s point of view through a SAARC summit.