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India ups ante, to skip SAARC summit in Pakistan

India ups ante, to skip SAARC summit in Pakistan
Stepping up its diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan globally following the Uri terror attacks, India on Tuesday said that it would not take part in the upcoming SAARC summit in Islamabad in November. 

“In the prevailing circumstances, the government of India is unable to participate in the proposed SAARC summit in Islamabad,” ministry of external affairs(MEA) said in a statement on Tuesday. 

“We also understand that some other SAARC states have also conveyed their reservation about attending the summit in November 2016,” the MEA said.  India’s decision to not attend the SAARC summit also rules out PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Islamabad in November for the same. The MEA also said that India has conveyed to current SAARC chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in internal affairs of member states by one country has created an environment that is not conducive to successful holding of summit in Islamabad. 

India said that it is committed to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but these can only go forward in an atmosphere free of terror. 

Earlier in the day Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar conveyed to Islamabad that “continuing cross-border terrorist attacks from Pakistan against India were unacceptable.” Stepping up its diplomatic offensive against Pakistan, India on Tuesday summoned Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit and gave him evidence of cross-border origins of Uri terror attack. This is the second time Basit has been summoned to South Block after the militant attack on the Army camp in Uri.

“Foreign secretary S Jaishankar summoned Abdul Basit and told him that the two guides who helped infiltration were apprehended by local villagers and are now in police custody,” MEA spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted on Tuesday. “Local villagers in the Uri sector apprehended on 21 September and handed over to Indian security forces two individuals from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir who have acted as guides for terrorists and helped them infiltrate across the LOC,” the posting on the micro-blogging site said.

“Their personal particulars are — Faizal Hussain Awan, 20 years, s/o Gul Akbar Resident of Potha Jahangir, Muzaffarabad and Yasin Khursheed, 19 years, s/o Mohammed Khurshid Resident of Khiliana Kalan, Muzaffarabad,” Basit was told. During his interrogation, Awan has deposed to the NIA that they had “guided and facilitated” the border crossing of the group that perpetrated the September 18 Uri massacre, the Foreign Secretary told Islamabad’s envoy in New Delhi.

In another incident on September 23, 2016, one Pakistani national, Abdul Qayoom, r/o Sialkot was apprehended in Molu sector opposite Pakistan’s Sialkot sector and has confessed to undergoing three weeks of training with the terrorist group LeT and donating substantial funds to Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, their front organization, Basit was conveyed.

“We are willing to provide the Pakistan High Commission consular access to these three individuals apprehended in connection with terrorist attacks in India,” the Foreign Secretary told the Pakistani envoy. Basit was also told that these apprehensions and subsequent interrogation underline the cross-border infiltration that had been the subject of their previous discussion.

 In a related development,  India will review the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status given to Pakistan at a meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Thursday.

The decisions to review the MFN, which was granted by India unilaterally in 1996, comes in the wake of the Uri attack over which India is weighing options to respond.

The MFN status was accorded in 1996 under WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
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