SAARC Summit could be postponed, hints Pakistan

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016,11:07 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Islamabad | Pakistan on Wednesday hinted that the next SAARC Summit here in November could be postponed if India has refused to attend the regional gathering.

“As per SAARC rules the Summit will not be held if any member-country refused to attend,” Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said.

His statement came as it became evident that it was not possible to organise the summit after India and three other member-countries – Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh – informed the SAARC Chair, Nepal, their unwillingness to attend the summit that was scheduled for November 9-10.

Aziz said it was not the first time that India was not attending the regional summit and that it had earlier also caused the summit to be postponed four times.

Aziz said although it is possible to postpone the summit but the SAARC Secretariat has not officially informed the government so far.

Earlier, Pakistani media reported that the government has decided to postpone the summit.

Under the SAARC charter, the summit is automatically postponed or cancelled even if one member country skips the event.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have increased after militants stormed an Indian Army base in Uri on September 18, killing 18 soldiers.

Besides India, three other SAARC members – Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan – have pulled out of the summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding of the meet.

The development a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided not to attend the SAARC Summit citing “the prevailing circumstances”.

Founded in 1985, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) currently has Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka as its members.

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