Nepal regrets SAARC postponement due to Indo-Pak tensions

Oct 03, 2016 (LBO) – Nepal, the current chair of SAARC, has expressed regret that the regional environment is not conducive to host the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November.

“Nepal will initiate necessary consultation on successfully holding the summit with the participation of all member states, the country’s foreign ministry said.

The announcement comes after India pulled out of the summit, and host Pakistan postponed the summit, following strikes by Indian special forces across the Line of Control into Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Sept. 29.

India’s leaders and the public have welcomed the strikes to eliminate terrorist cells in response to the Sept. 18 attack at Uri in Kashmir in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed.

But Islamabad has rejected India’s claims saying the strikes were incidents of cross-border firing in which two Pakistani soldiers were killed while nine more were wounded.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka too have pulled out of the SAARC summit indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding of the meet, the Times of India reported.

India’s position began to harden in July, when Pakistan tried to gain political mileage out of popular protests in Indian-administered Kashmir, a turnaround in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pakistan policy, according to the Washington Post.

Modi engaged with Pakistan during his first two years in office, but refused to condemn a terrorist attack in the Pakistani city of Quetta in August. He also raised Pakistani human rights abuses in Balochistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir in his annual Independence Day speech on Aug. 15.