Dhaka – With refusal of India and few other members of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation to turn out to Islamabad, the fate of the 19th summit of the regional grouping has become uncertain.
India on Tuesday categorically said it would not attend the summit to be held in Pakistani capital in November while Bangladesh and Bhutan, in principle, decided not to attend the meeting.
Political analysts foresee that the upcoming meeting is set to be postponed as major players decided to pull them out of the summit.
Afghanistan is also thinking in the line of India and Bangladesh, according to diplomatic sources in Dhaka.
The present SAARC chair Nepal is expected to officially declare the postponement of the Summit anytime.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam told local media that the Foreign Ministry has sent a letter to SAARC secretariat and current SAARC chair, saying that Bangladesh cannot take part in the SAARC Summit owing to the domestic engagements.
The minister said the decision was sent on Tuesday.
However, a senior official of the Bangladesh foreign ministry said the prime minister took the decision not to join the summit as Pakistan interfered Bangladesh’s internal affair regarding the war crimes tribunals repeatedly and blatantly.
Indian newspaper reported that its government was trying to scale up its diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan from the global arena after an attack on Indian troops in Uri of Kashmir by allegedly Pakistani militants.
Times of India reported that the Indian government on Tuesday said it will not attend the next SAARC summit. Bangladesh and Bhutan are likely to follow the suit.
“In the prevailing circumstances, the government of India is unable to participate in the proposed SAARC summit in Islamabad,” ministry of external affairs said in a statement.
“We also understand that some other SAARC states have also conveyed their reservation about attending the summit in November 2016,” the statement said.
India’s decision to not attend the SAARC summit also rules out PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Islamabad in November for the same, reported the newspaper.
Pakistan has termed India’s decision to not attend the SAARC summit as “unfortunate”.
India said that it is committed to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but these can only go forward in an atmosphere free of terror.
Afghanistan Ambassador to India told Indian media last week that it was willing to consider a joint boycott of the summit along with India and other SAARC members.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Goa on October 16, where they are likely to discuss the future steps on regional cooperation.
Bangladesh Finance Minister AMA Muhith and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan skipped the two Saarc ministerial-level meetings in Islamabad citing domestic compulsion.
On September 19, Hasina said Bangladesh “firmly stands” beside India at this difficult hour and expressed deep shock at the terrorist attack on the army base in Kashmir.
Bangladesh officials said Bangladesh and India will continue to work together in their “common endeavour” to eradicate the menace of cross-border terrorism from this region and beyond and both the leaders will further discuss it the Goa event.
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the members of the South Asian grouping.