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Pakistan ‘postpones’ Saarc summit, new dates to be announced soon

Pakistan on Friday postponed the 19th SAARC Summit after India and four other countries said they won’t take part in the event.

india Updated: Sep 30, 2016 21:28 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Saarc,Saarc postponed,Saarc summit
The move by the five countries means the summit cannot go ahead as the Saarc Charter states all decisions must be made by unanimity.(REUTERS)

Pakistan on Friday said it has postponed the 19th Saarc meet after India and four other member countries expressed unwillingness to attend the summit.

In a press release,the Pakistan foreign office said, “A new set of dates for holding of the 19th Saarc Summit at Islamabad will be announced soon, through the Chair of Saarc (Nepal).”

“Pakistan deplores India’s decision to impede the Saarc process by not attending the 19th Saarc Summit at Islamabad on 9-10 November 2016. The spirit of the Saarc Charter is violated when a member state casts the shadow of its bilateral problems on the multilateral forum for regional cooperation,” the statement further said.

The statement said India’s decision to pull out of the summit on the basis of ‘unfounded assumptions’ on the Uri incident is a ‘futile effort to divert attention of the world from the atrocities perpetrated by India in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.’

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was looking forward to welcome the Saarc leaders for their participation in the summit. All preparations had been made for “successful” holding of the summit, the statement said.

It alleged that decision by India to ‘derail the summit’ effectively ‘contradicts’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s own call to fight against poverty in the region.

In a synchronised effort, India and three other countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan - had informed the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation’s (Saarc) secretariat on Tuesday their leaders would be unable to attend the summit.

Sri Lanka also expressed its unwillingness to attend the summit on Friday.

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.

The 19th meet was scheduled to take place in Islamabad on 9-10 November. Saarc member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

First Published: Sep 30, 2016 20:28 IST