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IndiaSAARC Summit in Islamabad all set to be cancelled, 3 more countries...

SAARC Summit in Islamabad all set to be cancelled, 3 more countries pull out


New Delhi/Islamabad, September 28: Pakistan on Wednesday hinted that the next SAARC Summit to be held in Islamabad in November could be postponed if has refused to attend the regional gathering.

“As per SAARC rules, the Summit will not be held if any member-country refused to attend,” Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said.

His statement came as it became evident that it was not possible to organize the summit after India and three other member-countries — Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh — informed the SAARC Chair, Nepal, their unwillingness to attend the summit that was scheduled for November 9-10.

Aziz said it was not the first time that India was not attending the regional summit and that it had earlier also caused the summit to be postponed four times.

Aziz said although it is possible to postpone the summit but the SAARC Secretariat has not officially informed the government so far.

Earlier, Pakistani media reported that the government has decided to postpone the summit.

Earlier, India's External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said all eight Heads of SAARC countries must be present for the Summit, Swarup said, adding if any one country decides not to participate, the Summit has to be postponed.

“In the current case, not just India but Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan have also written to current Chair of SAARC, Nepal that they are unable to participate in the SAARC Summit, which means there is no option but to postpone it,” he added.

The countries have pulled out of the SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an which is not right for the successful holding of the meet.

In the backdrop of the heightened tension with Pakistan over Uri terror attack in which 18 jawans were killed, India had announced late last night its decision to not participate in Summit, citing increased “cross-border” attacks.

While Bangladesh has categorically said “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.

“Bangladesh, as the initiator of the SAARC process, remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in a more congenial atmosphere. In view of the above, Bangladesh is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad,” it said.

Afghanistan has also conveyed to SAARC Chair Nepal that President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani would not be able to attend the Summit, sources said.

“Due to increased level of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan”, President Ghani “with his responsibilities as the Commander-in-Chief will be fully engaged, and will not be able to attend the Summit”, a communication by the country said.

Bhutan said while it is committed to the SAARC process and strengthening of regional cooperation, it is 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.”

“Further, the Royal Government of Bhutan shares the concerns of some of the member countries of SAARC on the deterioration of regional peace and security due to terrorism and joins them in conveying our inability to participate in the SAARC Summit, under the current circumstances.”  — Agencies

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.


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