Saarc member nation Maldives has urged that the 19th summit be held at an early date than was scheduled, going against the majority view in the grouping.
India — followed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka — had pulled out of the summit, which was set to be held in Islamabad on November 9 and 10, citing the atmosphere prevailing in the region as not conducive.
“The Maldives encouraged States to provide a valuable opportunity for the leaders to discuss critical issues facing the region and expressed hope that the required measures will be taken by relevant member states to convene the Summit at an early date,” the island nation said in a statement.
The government of Maldives urged the member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) to create an “environment conducive for holding the 19th Saarc Summit.”
“The appeal by the government of Maldives follows the decisions by some of the Saarc member states who have expressed their inability to attend the Summit scheduled for November due to terrorism, and threats to regional and international peace. The Maldives condemns international terrorism, especially those originating from outside,” the statement said.
The developments come amidst tensions between India and Pakistan, the host country for this summit, after India blamed its neighbour for harbouring the militants it believes had carried out attacks on an army camp in Uri last month.
India had linked regional cooperation to terrorism and opted out of the summit. Within a day, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan also announced they would be unable to attend the meet, later followed by Sri Lanka.
The move by the five countries meant the summit cannot go ahead as the Saarc Charter states all decisions must be made by unanimity. The absence of even one member state leads to the automatic postponement or cancellation of a summit.
Saarc was founded in 1985 for regional and economic integration. Its eight member states are Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The last Saarc summit was held in 2014 in Kathmandu where the body’s secretariat is. The Maldives last hosted a Saarc summit in 2011, the 17 such meeting of member states.