Pakistan sent a junior official to a Saarc meeting in Delhi on Thursday in an apparent bid to lower the event’s profile amid mounting tensions between the two nations following a militant attack on an army camp in Kashmir.
Fauzia Manzoor, counselor in the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi, represented her country in the meeting.
Sources said it was expected that the chief of Pakistani Intelligence Bureau, Aftab Sultan, will come for the meeting as it was being presided over by his Indian counterpart Dineshwar Sharma but the neighbouring country decided against sending anyone from Islamabad.
The two-day “High Level Meeting of Eminent Experts” to strengthen counter-terror mechanism in the region began as India tries to diplomatically isolate Pakistan at global fora following a militant attack on an army base in Kashmir’s Uri town. India says the attackers were from Pakistan, a charge flatly denied by Islamabad.
Except from Pakistan, the meeting was represented at a high level by other South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries that comprises India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives. Maldives sent a deputy minister of home affairs for the meeting.
Sources said Pakistan’s causal approach in dealing with terror is evident from the fact that no one from Islamabad came for a similar meeting here in 2012 as well.
In his inaugural address, Dineshwar Sharma said Indians were highly agitated over the Uri attack in which 18 soldiers died and an equal number of them were battling for their lives.
Sharma did not name Pakistan in his speech but said “the incident is only one in series of dastardly acts during the last few decades for which planning, financing, training, arming and indoctrination on religious lines owe their origins to sources beyond the borders of India”.
He said it was necessary that all internationally-mandated sanctions against terrorist entities and individuals are strictly enforced.
Sharma also called upon the eight member nations to ratify and enable various conventions enacted by the SAARC grouping, including the convention on suppression of terrorism.
Sharma said all SAARC countries have experienced ravages of terrorism in one form or other. “Terrorist outfits have easy access to technology to attack both soft and hard targets to undermine public confidence and eventually the structure of the state. Islamic State’s spread has added new dimension to threat,” he said.
“No country today is in a position to tackle the problem on its own. Close cooperation and sharing of real time intelligence are therefore imperative for all of us to secure out countries and people.”
India has called Pakistan a “terrorist” state that funds extremism across the region, in a stinging reply to Pakistani prime minister’s speech at the United Nations general assembly. The two countries are expected to face off several times in the 193-nation event.