Published On: Wed, Sep 28th, 2016

Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan too pull out of SAARC Summit

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Apart from India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan have also pulled out of the SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding of the meet, resulting in its collapse.

Amidst heightened tension with Pakistan over Uri terror attack in which 18 jawans were killed, India had announced its decision of pulling out of the Summit late last night citing increased “cross-border” attacks.

While Bangladesh has categorically said that “the growing interference” in its internal affairs by one country has “created an environment which is not conducive to the successful hosting of the SAARC Summit”, Afghanistan pulled out citing “terrorism in the region” for its abstention.

“Bangladesh, as the initiator of the SAARC process, remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in a more congenial atmosphere. In view of the above, Bangladesh is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad,” it said.

Afghanistan has also conveyed to SAARC Chair Nepal that President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani would not be able to attend the Summit, sources said.

“Due to increased level of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan”, President Ghani “with his responsibilities as the Commander-in-Chief will be fully engaged, and will not be able to attend the Summit”, a communication by the country said.

Bhutan said while it is committed to the SAARC process and strengthening of regional cooperation, it is concerned over the “recent escalation of terrorism in the region, which has seriously compromised the environment for the successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016.”

“Further, the Royal Government of Bhutan shares the concerns of some of the member countries of SAARC on the deterioration of regional peace and security due to terrorism and joins them in conveying our inability to participate in the SAARC Summit, under the current circumstances.”

The decision by India and three countries of the eight- member grouping not to attend the summit would lead to its collapse since as per the SAARC charter the Summit can not be held even in the absence of one head of the government.

The Uri attack has triggered a strong response from India which has reviewed the 56-year-old Indus Water Treaty (IWT), and decided to reconsider the MFN status granted by it, unilaterally, to Pakistan.

The Foreign Secretary had also issued a demarche yesterday to Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit over the attack while confronting him with the proof of “cross-border origins” of the terror strike.

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