India has dismissed the possibility of convening the 19th Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation(SAARC) in the near future.
Speaking at a weekly press briefing, Arindam Bagchi Spokesperson at the Ministry of External Affairs of India made it clear that there is still no consensus among the member states about holding the Summit.
India’s statement comes three days after Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that his country is ready to host the SAARC Summit. The Pakistani foreign minister had said that ‘India can attend the meet virtually if it does not wish to participate in person.’
Responding to Pakistan’s offer, Spokesperson Bagchi said, “We have seen media reports regarding Pakistani Foreign Minister’s remark about the SAARC Summit. You are aware of the background of why the SAARC summit has not been held since 2014. There has been no material change in the situation.”
The 19th SAARC Summit was scheduled to take place on November 9-10, 2016 in Islamabad. India, however, refused to participate in the Summit claiming that Pakistan is supporting the cross-border terrorist which Pakistan always denies. Since then, indicating to Pakistan, India has stated that the regional environment is not appropriate for holding the summit.
It is Pakistan’s turn to hold the Summit and Nepal are currently serving as a chair of SAARC. India’s response comes amid the reports that preparations are underway for holding the Summit in the second half of this year.
To date, SAARC was stalled due to India-Pakistan tensions. Now, there is a new development in Afghanistan, a member state of SAARC where the Taliban has returned to power. Taliban is yet to get international recognition. There would be disputes among SAARC members about inviting Afghanistan to the Summit. So chances of the SAARC Summit in the near future appear slim.