Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday announced that in wake of the strained relations with Pakistan following the terror attack in Uri, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to skip the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Islamabad in November.
“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 said in a statement.
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“In the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad,” it said.
“We also understand that some other SAARC Member States have also conveyed their reservation about attending the Islamabad Summit in November 2016,” it said.
According to sources, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan are the other countries which have said no to attending the Summit.
Regional cooperation and terror don’t go together. India pulls out of SAARC Summit in Islamabad pic.twitter.com/jabKoaBegJ
— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) September 27, 2016
In its communication to Nepal, India has said it remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in an atmosphere free of terror.
The decision to boycott the SAARC Summit comes as India has been stepping up its diplomatic offensive against Pakistan over the past few days, over the latter’s open backing of the Kashmir unrest and also after the terror attack on an army camp in Uri on September 18 that left 18 soldiers dead.
Days after Prime Minister Modi announced that the sacrifices of the Indian soldiers in Uri would not go waste, the government decided to revisit the 56-year-old Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan and maximise its own utilisation of waters of three upstream rivers that were being used by Pakistan.
India is also working to revoke the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan in trade and Modi is to hold a meeting on the issue on Thursday.
The announcement to boycott the SAARC summit comes as India has been unsparing in its attack, at the United Nations General Assembly, on Pakistan for sponsoring terror. India has also announced on the floor of the world body that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will remain so.
(With inputs from agencies)