New Delhi: Pakistan on Friday announced the postponement of the 9-10 November South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit that Islamabad was to host, accusing India of “impeding” the process of by its decision not to attend.
India was the first country to call off participation in the 19th summit on the back of increasing cross-border terrorism on Tuesday. This was followed by similar announcements from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.
According to Saarc rules, if the head of one member state expresses inability to attend the summit, it has to be postponed.
The Pakistan foreign office statement said that “all preparations had been made for the successful holding of the Summit in a befitting manner,” with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looking forward to receiving heads of state or government from the other seven nations.
Saarc comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh,Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The Pakistani statement said “Pakistan deplores India’s decision” and that the “spirit of the Saarc Charter is violated when a member state casts the shadow of its bilateral problems on the multilateral forum for regional cooperation.”
“India’s decision to abstain from the Summit on the basis of unfounded assumptions on the (18 September attack) Uri incident is a futile effort to divert attention of the world from the atrocities perpetrated by India in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” it said.
India has accused Pakistan-based terrorists of attacking an Indian Army garrison at Uri killing 19 soldiers. Pakistan, the statement said, took the aim of regional cooperation under the umbrella of Saarc seriously and “remains committed to hosting the 19th Saarc Summit at Islamabad at the earliest,” it said. “ A new set of dates for holding of the 19th Saarc Summit at Islamabad will be announced soon,” it added.