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Elimination of terrorism a precondition for survival: Jaishankar at SAARC meet

He went on to say that the “relevance” of the regional body depended on actions that need to be taken “against terrorism and this will decide our collective journey of the future become more productive”.

world Updated: Sep 27, 2019 07:51 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
IMinister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
IMinister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar(AP file photo)
         

India said on Thursday that the relevance and survival of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), the regional body of the seven South Asian countries, depended on actions and measures to combat terrorism.

“In our view, elimination of terrorism in all its forms is a precondition not only for fruitful cooperation, but also for the very survival of our region itself,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in his opening remark at an informal meeting of SAARC, which is held every year on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings.

He went on to say that the “relevance” of the regional body depended on actions that need to be taken “against terrorism and this will decide our collective journey of the future become more productive”.

The minister did not name Pakistan, the only country in this regional grouping that has consistently supported and used terrorism as a tool of state policy and has refused to root it, but said progress in SAARC was being held up by “deliberate obstacles” and terrorism was one of them.

And as the minister spoke, the Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi staged a minor drama outside that actually went on to illustrate the point Jaishankar was making inside, about obstructing SAARC progress.

Qureshi was boycotting Jaishankar’s speech, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party tweeted, in protest against restrictions in place in Kashmir.

The Pakistani minister showed up minutes after Jaishankar finishing his statement and leaving the room. He refused to respond to questions from reporters from both India and Pakistan.

Qureshi, however, had come with every intention of milking his little stunt. The minister walked into the room where the SAARC foreign ministers were gathered at a hotel just a few blocks from the UN headquarters, around 40 minutes late.

He had a longer rant for reporters when he returned but refused to answer questions, however, about Pakistan’s support for Lashkar-e-Toiba founder Hafiz Saeed who, as a UNSC proscribed terrorists sought the world body’s permission to withdraw money from his frozen bank account.

SAARC members have not held a summit after 2014 and Pakistan, whose turn it is to host the next one, has been unable to for one reason or the other. India and two other countries had turned down the invitation in 2015 because of the Uri attacks.

First Published: Sep 27, 2019 07:50 IST

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