March 21, 2023

Pakistan reiterates Saarc invite; India in no hurry | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Pakistan reiterated its invitation on Monday to all member-states for the 19th Saarc summit while calling upon India to join virtually if it didn’t want to attend the summit. Islamabad is also said to be considering sending a formal invite to all countries, including India.
The biennial Saarc summit process has remained stalled since the Uri terror attack in 2016 that was carried out by terrorists from across the LoC.
India sought to isolate Pakistan after the attack by ensuring that the summit that year in Islamabad was called off. The last summit took place in Kathmandu in 2014. While countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka have been keen to resume the process, which is based on consensus decision-making, India believes Islamabad still hasn’t done enough to check cross-border terrorism.
In the recent past though, India has shown some inclination to work with Pakistan on the issue of counter-terrorism, as evident from the cooperation under SCO, and also on Afghanistan. India continues to be in touch with Pakistan to finalise the modalities for transporting 50,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan through the land border with Pakistan.
“I reiterate the invitation for the 19th SAARC summit. If India is not ready to come to Islamabad, it can join virtually… but it should not stop others from attending,” said Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at a press conference.
Official sources here refused to hazard any guess on India’s response saying there was no formal communication yet from Pakistan and that India won’t take any decision in haste. For India, as also some other countries, the question of Afghanistan’s participation remains important. The customary Saarc foreign ministers’ meeting on the sidelines of UNGA last year couldn’t be held after Pakistan insisted on Taliban representing Afghanistan.
According to an agency report from Islamabad, Qureshi went on to accuse India of making SAARC dysfunctional through its “stubbornness” by refusing to come to Islamabad for the summit and also blamed “Hindutva thinking” in India for undermining bilateral relations.
“Unfortunately, ties with India in 2021 were frozen. In our view, the potential of regional cooperation has been hit by aggressive Hindutva behaviour in recent years,” he said, adding that peace with India won’t be possible till the Kashmir issue was resolved.
Pakistan believes India didn’t respond positively to its peace gestures that, as it claims, sought to build upon the last year’s ceasefire thaw. Pakistan though itself didn’t participate in the NSA conference on Afghanistan that India hosted in November.

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