Home / News / India /  Relevance, survival of SAARC depend on elimination of terrorism: Jaishankar

New Delhi: India on Thursday said the relevance and survival of South Asia and SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), the regional body comprising seven countries, depended on the elimination of terrorism in the region.

Addressing a meeting of South Asia foreign ministers in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar said: “In our view, elimination of terrorism in all its forms is a precondition not only for fruitful cooperation, but also for the very survival of our region itself."

The “relevance" of the regional body depended on actions that need to be taken “against terrorism and this will decide our collective journey of the future become more productive", Jaishankar said in his speech which was given a pointed miss by Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi over tensions following the abrogation of Article 370 by India in August.

The Indian minister said progress in SAARC was being held up by “deliberate obstacles" and terrorism was one of them without naming Pakistan. The absence of the Pakistan foreign minister only underlined the point Jaishankar was making about Islamabad not cooperating to make the regional forum a success.

Qureshi’s boycott of Jaishankar’s speech was in protest against restrictions in place in Kashmir, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party said in a Twitter post. The Pakistan foreign minister walked into the venue of the SAARC foreign ministers’ meet minutes after Jaishankar finished his speech.

Later, speaking to reporters, Qureshi confirmed that the delay in his arrival had been deliberate. “It is not possible for me to sit with the murderer of Kashmiris," he was quoted as saying by Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.

SAARC has not held a summit after 2014. Pakistan was to host the meet in 2016, but the summit had to be called off after India and two other countries turned down the invitation because of terrorist attacks in India.

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