A day after the MEA announced that India will not attend the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad in November this year, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Bhutan have made their stand clear, saying the atmosphere in the region was not conducive for talks to go on.
Sources have told The Indian Express that Bangladesh on Tuesday wrote to the SAARC chair Nepal expressing their apprehension about the proposed summit in Islamabad.
“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 letter to Nepal read.
Bhutan, too, has expressed its concern over recent escalation of terrorism in the region, which, it says, seriously compromises the environment for successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in Nov 2016. Bhutan, in its letter to Nepal, shared concerns of some of SAARC countries on deterioration of regional peace and security due to terrorism.
“Due to increased level of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan, H.E. the 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,” Afghanistan said in its statement.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of External Affairs said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be attending, adding that “regional cooperation and terrorism do not go together”.
In a statement issued, the MEA said: “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 response to India’s announcement, Pakistan said: “While we have not received any official communication in this regard, the Indian announcement is unfortunate… We will continue to work to that end in the larger interest of the people in this region,” a Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson said, adding that Pakistan remained committed to peace and regional cooperation.
Nepal could also pull out of the SAARC Summit. With India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan pulling out of the Summit, it will have to be postponed as, according to the new rules, the Summit can take place only if all nations are represented.