Despite boycott by four nations, Pak says will go ahead with SAARC summit
Despite four of the eight member nations pulling out of the SAARC summit, scheduled to be held in November this year, Pakistan is yet to call off the meet on regional cooperation. India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan have announced their decision to not participate in the meet as the prevailing situation was not “conducive”.
Amidst heightened tension with Pakistan over Uri terror attack in which 18 jawans were killed, India late on Tuesday announced its decision of pulling out of the Summit citing increased “cross-border” attacks. New Delhi on Tuesday also issued a demarche to Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit over the attack while confronting him with the proof of “cross-border origins” of the terror strike.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh has categorically said that “the growing interference” in its internal affairs by one country has “created an environment which is not conducive to the successful hosting of the SAARC Summit,” Afghanistan pulled out citing “terrorism in the region” for its abstention.
Showing solidarity with India, Bhutan has said while it is committed to the SAARC process and strengthening of regional cooperation, it was concerned over the “recent escalation of terrorism in the region, which has seriously compromised the environment for the successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016.”
New Delhi’s other close ally Nepal was yet to clear its stand on participation. According to an official source, “Since Nepal is incumbent chairman of the regional cooperation body, its decision would have to be accordingly nuanced.” Under the given circumstances, the chances of Maldives not going with India too was unlikely, a source added.
Meanwhile, in Islamabad Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan will host the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in November. Zakaria was quoted as saying that it was learned from the Indian External Affairs Ministry’s tweet that India was not going to participate in the SAARC Summit, a decision he called ‘unfortunate’.
“While we have not received any official communication in this regard, the Indian announcement is unfortunate,” he said. The spokesperson also said Pakistan is committed to regional peace and will continue working for the broader interest of the people of the region, according to the report.