Saarc summit in Islamabad likely to be cancelled as four nations pull out
India, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will not attend the meet that was scheduled for November.
The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation summit to be held in Pakistan is likely to be called off, sources told The Hindu. The news comes after India, Bhutan and Bangladesh said they would not attend the meet, which was scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November. Afghanistan is also likely to not attend the summit. An official said the current Saarc chair in Nepal will make a decision on whether to cancel it.
A diplomatic source told The Hindu, “There is no question of holding the summit if four countries declare their unwillingness to participate… We will do the due formalities and will declare the summit of 2016 should be cancelled due to non-participation of member-states.” The absence of member countries could force the postponement of the summit as association rules make it mandatory for all participants to be present. As a regional powerhouse, India holds a significant amount of leverage within the association.
Official sources told Pakistan's Geo News that the summit will be postponed.
India on Tuesday had announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend the summit in light of growing cross-border terrorism, and because one country had created an environment “not conducive” to holding the meet. However, Pakistan had said it would conduct the summit as per schedule, after India backed out.
The Ministry of External Affairs' announcement comes as India's relations with Pakistan have worsened, following the militant attack on an Army camp in Uri, Kashmir which left 18 soldiers dead.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had come down heavily on Pakistan for its reported links with terror groups in its country at the United Nations General Assembly this week, while on Tuesday, India held a meeting on the Indus Waters Treaty that it signed with the neighbouring country in 1960. Pakistan has also alleged that India has committed humans rights violations in Kashmir since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani on July 8.