Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das will represent India in the two-day SAARC Finance Ministers meeting starting at Islamabad today. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was scheduled to attend the conference, sources said, has cancelled the participation due to "political reasons". The conference is scheduled on August 25-26 in Islamabad. Das will be attending the meeting in place of the Finance Minister, government sources said. Earlier this month, barbs were exchanged between Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who only had a tense and uneasy handshake during the 7th SAARC Home Ministers Meeting in Islamabad.
Pakistani authorities did not allow entry of Indian mediapersons, including those from PTI and Doordarshan, inside the venue of Home Ministers Meeting. Singh had informed Rajya Sabha that after the meeting was over, Pakistan's Home Minister, who was the host, invited the participants for lunch but left in a car soon thereafter. "Keeping in mind the country's prestige, I did what I should have done. I have no complaints. I had not gone there for lunch," he had said.
That apart, in his Independence Day address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that India will not bow before terrorism, and also brought up Pakistani atrocities on people of Baluchistan and PoK, saying that they have thanked him for doing so. Though Modi did not make any reference to Kashmir Valley, which is witnessing violence after the killing of Hizbul Commander Burhan Wani, he accused Pakistan of glorifying terrorists and celebrating killings in India. Pakistan's Finance Ministry in a recent statement had said the country would play the role of a "good host" and try to keep the overall ambiance positive.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation. Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.