India’s decision to pull out of the Saarc Summit in Pakistan over concerns related to terrorism received widespread coverage in the media in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh on Wednesday but some members of the grouping skipped the development.
The latest move by India, coming against the backdrop of increased tensions over a terror attack on an army camp in Uri that killed 18 soldiers, made the front pages of newspapers and in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal and dominated TV news headlines in countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.
However, the development was largely not reflected by the media in Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Bhutan, which also decided to pull out of the summit to be held in Islamabad in November.
India announced on Tuesday that it would not join the summit because of “increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of member states by one country”. Reports said Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan too had formally informed current Saarc chair Nepal of their decision to skip the summit.
‘Saarc summit in doldrums after India pulls out’, read the headline on the front page of Pakistan’s influential Dawn newspaper. The Express Tribune of Pakistan headlined its report: ‘New Delhi torpedoes 19th Saarc summit’.
The Dawn reported the meet now was “in peril”. It said, “Technically, the summit, as per Saarc traditions, cannot go ahead after one of the member countries opts out of it.” According to the Saarc Charter, all decisions of the grouping have to be based on unanimity.
The Tribune reported that “India’s obduracy and its desperate campaign to isolate Pakistan have sabotaged a key regional summit”. It noted that Pakistan’s Foreign Office had described the development as “unfortunate”.
Pakistan’s The News daily, which headlined its report, ‘After water, India targets Saarc summit’, reported that India’s decision was “expected”.
Bangladeshi news outlet bdnews24.com reported the postponement of the summit was “inevitable” after India, Bangladesh and Bhutan decided to boycott the meet. Nepal, with the backing of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, was still trying to “save the summit by postponing it rather than cancelling”, it added.
The Dhaka Tribune reported that Bangladesh would not participate in the summit to protest against Pakistan’s “adverse remarks” on the country’s sovereignty and the verdicts given to war criminals of 1971. Minister of state for foreign affairs, M Shahriar Alam, was quoted by The Daily Star as saying that the move to boycott the meet was purely Bangladesh’s own decision.