Delhi: India on Wednesday said that SAARC summit (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) would have to be postponed since four nations had decided not to attend it in Islamabad in November.
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “SAARC summit will be postponed since four nations have decided to not attend it in Islamabad, there’s no other way. SAARC rule position is very clear. If any one head of state or government decides not to participate in summit, it has to be postponed.”
“However, a formal announcement can only be made by Nepal after they have done their internal consultation,” the MEA spokesperson added.
He further said, “Unfortunate that Pakistan continues to pursue the path that has led to this current decision. Our commitment to SAARC, to regional connectivity, to regional contact and prosperity remains intact. But we cannot conceive of SAARC summit happening when cross-border terrorism and cross-interference in our internal affairs continues,” as per ANI.
Nepal government urges for conducive environment
On the other hand, Nepal MoFA said today, “Nepal government urges that a conducive environment be created soon to ensure participation of all member states in 19th SAARC summit.”
“Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and India conveyed inability to participate in SAARC because of the current environment, we’ve taken it seriously,” it added.
Under the SAARC charter, the summit is automatically postponed or cancelled even if one member country skips the event.
Founded in 1985, SAARC currently has Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka as its members.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan join India in boycotting SAARC summit
Following the diplomatic blitzkrieg launched by New Delhi, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan joined India in boycotting the summit.
“Due to increased level of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan, President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani with his responsibilities as the Commander in Chief will be fully engaged, and will not be able to attend the summit,” sources quoted Kabul as saying in a message to SAARC chair Nepal yesterday, as per IANS.
In a similar message to Nepal, Bangladesh said, “The growing interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh by one country has created an environment which is not conducive to the successful hosting of the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad in November 2016.”
“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,” the message said.
In its message to Nepal, Bhutan, while reaffirming its strong commitment to the SAARC process and strengthening of regional cooperation, noted that “the concern of the Royal Government of Bhutan on 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”, it is learned.
“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,” the message from Thimpu yesterday said.
Sri Lanka, it is learned, has said that the event would not be possible without India’s participation.
Pakistan’s reaction on SAARC summit
Meanwhile, Pakistan today hinted that the summit to be held in Islamabad could be postponed if India 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 Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said, as per PTI.
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.
Regional cooperation and terror don’t go together: India
Yesterday night, India had decided not to attend the SAARC summit in Islamabad.
Citing continuous cross-border terrorism by Pakistan, the government had announced that “in the prevailing circumstances, India is unable to participate in the proposed summit in Islamabad.”
India had added, that “one country” had created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the summit.
“India has conveyed to current SAARC Chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of Member States by one country have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad in November 2016,” External Affairs Ministry had said in a statement.