AMID THE heightened tension between India and Pakistan, Islamabad has nominated two officials from its space research commission to attend a five-day seminar in Gandhinagar which is beginning on Wednesday. Confirming this, a senior government official said, “Pakistan has nominated two representatives to be a part of the seminar on ‘application of space technology in monitoring and managing risk’.
So far, they have not communicated about cancellation of their plans. Visa clearance has been obtained from the home ministry.” The seminar is being organised by the SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC), which was shifted from Delhi to Gujarat in January this year.
The other SAARC countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka — are also set to send participants to attend the seminar. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani is likely to attend the opening session on Wednesday. The recent stand-off between India and Pakistan over the killing of soldiers by Pakistan’s Border Action Team (BAT), ceasefire violations and death sentence to Kulbhusan Jadhav has resulted in souring of ties between the two countries.
India led the boycott of the SAARC Summit, which was to be hosted by Islamabad in November last year, forcing Pakistan to cancel the event. As reported by The Indian Express on April 14, the Ministry of External Affairs has cleared a grant of Rs 47 lakh for conducting the seminar at SDMC, which will be attended by senior functionaries from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Home Ministry and External Affairs Ministry.
The SDMC is also organising another seminar — ‘programme on short-range early warning system’ — which is likely to be held next month and will be attended by experts and special invitees from SAARC countries. This will be a two-week residential programme with nearly two dozen participants, said officials. However, there is no information yet on whether Pakistan will attend this seminar.
Officials said Pakistan wanted the SDMC to be located in their country, but a compromise was worked out during a SAARC meet last year. It was decided that the SDMC would be set up in India, while an existing centre in Pakistan would be upgraded to look at environmental issues.