Following India’s decision not to attend the SAARC summit to be held in Islamabad and the subsequent decisions of Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh to follow suit might lead to the cancellation of the summit itself.
According to reports, Nepal, which chairs the SAARC, will take a decision whether to cancel the summit or not.
Given that four of the eight SAARC member countries have decided to boycott the event, the chances of its cancellation appears likely. An India Today report also says that instead of cancelling the summit, Kathmandu is seeking shifting it to a new venue at a later date so that the SAARC summit can continue. The 19th
SAARC summit is scheduled to be held in Pakistan from November 9-10 but following the Uri attack by Pakistan-based terrorists on an Indian army brigade in Kashmir, diplomatic relations have touched a nadir. On Tuesday, New Delhi refused to take part in the summit accusing Pakistan of fomenting terrorism throughout South Asia.
In their official communiques, Dhaka, Kabul and Thimpu cited “terrorism” as the reason behind their decision. Bangladesh tersely told Pakistan to “come to the path of cooperation instead of contradiction” so that the SAARC process continues unhindered.
Modi was himself scheduled to go for the summit but Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that India has conveyed to Nepal its decision not to attend it.
“India 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. In the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed summit in Islamabad,” he said in a statement.
While Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan took India’s side, Sri Lanka said the summit cannot be held without India.
Technically, a SAARC summit is cancelled if even one member chooses not to attend. Knowing fully well that the cancellation of the summit will be the biggest blow to Pakistan’s international policies, Islamabd has termed the boycott decision as “unfortunate”.