India on Tuesday announced that it will not attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in Islamabad in November, saying that regional cooperation and terror don’t go together.
India announced its decision to pull out hours after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit was summoned to South Block and handed over Pakistan’s proof of cross-border origin of the September 18 Uri terror attack.
In a statement, India said increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of SAARC member-states “by one country” have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th SAARC summit.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that India has conveyed to current SAARC Chair Nepal its decision not to attend the summit, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was slated to go.
“India remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in an atmosphere free of terror. In the prevailing circumstances, the government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad,” he said in the statement.
The decision to pull out, marking a sharp escalation in India’s attack on Pakistan for sponsoring terror, also comes a day after New Delhi decided to revisit the 56-year-old Indus Waters Treaty, and apportion more water to itself from river waters that have been used by Pakistan for decades.
Prime Minister Modi, chairing the meeting on the river waters treaty, is quoted as having said that “blood and water can’t flow together”.
India is also planning to revoke the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan in trade, in another punishing measure.
Earlier in the day, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner Basit for the second time since the Uri attack and handed over the evidence to him on the two arrested guides. Basit dismissed the proof as an attempt by India to divert world attention from an alleged violation of rights in Jammu and Kashmir.
Reacting to India’s decision to pull out, the Pakistan Foreign Office, termed the decision as “unfortunate”. It also hit out at the “excuse used by India” and said the world knows that “it is India that is perpetrating and financing terrorism in Pakistan”.