After five nations pulled out of the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit that was scheduled to take place in Islamabad in November, Pakistan on Friday announced that it was postponing the summit and fresh dates would be released soon.
In a press release, the office of Pakistan foreign ministry said, “A new set of dates for holding of the 19th Saarc Summit at Islamabad will be announced soon, through the Chair of Saarc (Nepal).Pakistan deplores India’s decision to impede the Saarc process by not attending the 19th Saarc Summit at Islamabad on 9-10 November 2016.”
The announcement comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to skip the summit and amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. However, Pakistan remained defiant until recently, saying it would go ahead in organising the summit. MEA Spokesperson had earlier stated that even if one member country pulls out of the summit, it must be postponed.
Commenting on the development, Nepal, the chair of SAARC, confirmed that it would have been impossible to hold the summit without all the members being present. Noting that the indefinite postponement of the summit is not good for everyone, Nepal appealed to other member countries to hold the summit only when there is guaranteed participation.
SAARC members countries Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka too conveyed to Nepal that they too will not be able to attend the summit. All four countries, in different ways, blamed Pakistan for the rise in cross-border terror attacks, saying “the current regional environment is not conducive to the successful holding of the summit.”
India has upped the ante in recent days to internationally isolate Pakistan post the Uri terror attack, which claimed that lives of 20 army jawans. External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly last week, called upon the international community to isolate those who scuttle the global strategy in the fight against terrorism.