India, others snub Pakistan with South Asia summit boycott

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit due to take place in Islamabad in November may be delayed.

Photo by: AP (Archive)
Photo by: AP (Archive)

SAARC was formed in Dhaka in December 1985.

Updated Sep 29, 2016

A key South Asian summit set to take place in Islamabad in November is in doubt after India and three other countries announced their withdrawal.

A senior Pakistani Foreign Ministry official who declined to be identified told AFP that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meeting would be delayed due to the withdrawals.

Although Indian media outlets claim that the summit has collapsed,current SAARC chair Nepal has not officially commented yet on whether the event would go ahead or be called off.

SAARC is an organisation of south Asian countries which includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

India announced its decision on Tuesday, saying, "increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of member states by one country" had created an atmosphere that was not conducive.

The decision came after militants assaulted an Indian military base in the disputed region of Kashmir this month, causing the deaths of 18 soldiers.

India blamed Pakistan for the assault. But Pakistan has denied the accusations, saying that India has provided no valid evidence.

Kashmir is at the centre of a decades-old rivalry between India and Pakistan.

India’s decision to pullout was followed by Bangladesh. "Pakistan has been interfering in our internal affairs for some time, that's why we have pulled out of the SAARC summit," a senior official from Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry told AFP.  

Afghanistan and Bhutan also followed, announcing that they will be unable to attend the summit.

The last SAARC summit was held in 2014 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since the partition of India in 1947 at the end of British imperial rule. Two of them were over Kashmir, where the neighbours regularly exchange fire across their disputed border.

At the last SAARC summit in 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif shook hands, raising hopes of warmer relations.

But those hopes dimmed after an attack carried out by the United Jihad Council, an alliance of more than a dozen pro-Pakistan militant groups, killed seven Indian soldiers in Pathankot.

TRTWorld and agencies