India snubs Pakistan yet again, says no to SAARC summit

The last SAARC summit was held in Kathmandu in November 2014.

Five years later, India has spurned Pakistan’s invitation yet again for participating in the SAARC summit the latter plans to host by reminding Islamabad that the situation vis-à-vis cross-border hasn’t changed, that could justify a change in its stance.

“We have seen media reports regarding the Pakistan foreign minister’s remark about the summit… you are aware of the background as to why the summit has not been held since 2014. There has been no material change in the situation. Therefore, there is still no consensus that would permit the holding of the summit,” said Arindam Bagchi, the official spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry.

Mr Bagchi was responding to questions from journalists about Pakistan’s Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s reiteration of Islamabad’s offer to host the long-pending summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Desperate to get New Delhi on board, Mr Qureshi had even urged India to attend the meet virtually if it does not wish to participate in-person.

The 19th SAARC Summit was scheduled in Islamabad in November 2016, but had to be cancelled after New Delhi and other SAARC countries, including Afghanistan had boycotted over the September 18, 2016 Uri terror attack.

Pakistan has accused India of making the forum dysfunctional. “Unfortunately, India has made this forum dysfunctional because of its stubbornness. They are not ready to come to Islamabad, they are hesitant,” he said.

“Because of India’s obstinacy, this forum is suffering. If India does not want to come, then new means are available. I reiterate our invitation to all SAARC members and Pakistan is willing to host the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad,” said Mr Qureshi.

“If India doesn’t want to come, they can attend virtually. If they (India) have problems coming here physically, they can attend virtually but they shouldn’t stop others. They should let others come and not affect this forum,” the Pakistan foreign minister had said.

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