Saarc summit cancellation deals a blow to Pakistan
India has scored a major victory in its efforts to isolate Pakistan at the regional level with the cancellation of the 19th summit of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc) scheduled to be held in Pakistan in November.
On September 27 (Tuesday), New Delhi had announced that it was boycotting the summit in view of “cross-border attacks in the region.” Within a day of India taking the decision, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan followed suit and informed Nepal, the regional body’s current chairman, that they too would not attend the summit.
The reasons the three countries have cited to stay away from the November 9 meet in Islamabad are similar: Terrorism and violence that are not conducive to regional cooperation. Though Sri Lanka, has decided to pull out, it is yet to issue an official statement. While Nepal can’t abstain (being Saarc chairman), the Maldives has to make its stand public.
India’s boycott decision is not totally unexpected. Since the Uri attack, the Modi government has been weighing in various options to punish Pakistan for abetting cross-border attacks. This is the first decisive action among a slew of measures being contemplated by Delhi to humiliate Pakistan. In fact, a few days ago, when India hinted at the possibility of shunning the Saarc summit, it is clear that it would not take place because the regional grouping’s annual meet could not be held even if one country stays out.
Meanwhile, Pakistan continued to follow an ostrich policy. Without deviating from its standard practice of denying anything and everything that comes from India, Islamabad called Saarc summit cancellation Indian propaganda.
According to Pakistantoday.com, Sartaj Aziz, Advisor on Foreign Affairs to Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff, denied reports that three countries have decided to boycott the event. He is reported to have said that “India is making propaganda to foil the conference. Such rumours about Saarc conference could be propaganda by RAW.”