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India pulls out of Pakistan-hosted 19th Saarc summit

ISLAMABAD: India has decided to pull out of the upcoming Saarc summit in Islamabad, said the official spokesperson for the India’s Ministry for External Affairs (MEA) Vikas Swarup in a tweet on Tuesday.

The announcement comes amid growing tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours following the attack on an Indian army base in held Kashmir.

“India has conveyed to the current Saarc Chair in Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorists attacks in the region and increasing interference in the internal matters of member states by one country has created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the Saarc summit,” said the statement released from the Indian foreign ministry.

The statement added that India, under the prevailing circumstances, is unable to participate in the proposed summit in Islamabad.

India also claims in the statement that it remains steadfast in its commitment for regional cooperation.

Pakistan had offered dialogue to India for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, but the offer was rejected.

“Regional cooperation and terror don’t go together,” said Swarup.

The 19th Saarc summit is due to be held in November this year.

Pakistan had formally extended an invitation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the Pakistan-hosted 19th Saarc summit.

Attack and allegations

Earlier this month, 18 Indian soldiers were killed in an attack on the Uri army base in IHK in the run-up to Pakistan and India’s showdown at the United Nations General Assembly over Kashmir.

India accused Pakistan of involvement immediately after the attack, terming it a ‘terrorist state’.

Over 100 people have been killed, hundreds blinded and over a thousand injured in violent clashes with government forces despite repeated imposition of curfews in IHK since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in July.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his address to the UNGA maintained that Pakistan wants peace with India but it is “not possible without resolving the Kashmir issue”. The premier urged the UN to demilitarise Jammu and Kashmir and called for steps to implement UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at the UNGA on Monday, in a veiled reference to Pakistan, accused it of ‘nurturing, peddling and exporting terrorism’.

Swaraj slammed PM Nawaz’s speech saying, “The prime minister of Pakistan used this podium to make baseless allegations about human rights violations in my country” and advised Pakistan to abandon the dream of having control of IHK.

“My firm advice to Pakistan is: abandon this dream. Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so,” Swaraj said.

FO Spokesman Nafees Zakaria, responding to Swaraj, raised the question “why is Kashmir on the agenda of the UN Security Council” if it is an integral part of India.

He added “[It is] strange that the Indian minister of external affairs is disowning UNSC resolutions, and that too at the UN.”

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