ISLAMABAD: Playing down India’s move to isolate Pakistan in the region amidst escalating tensions between the two over the ongoing unrest in the Kashmir Valley, Islamabad said New Delhi’s decision not to send its finance minister, Arun Jaitley, for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) finance ministers’ conference hardly matters.
“India’s (finance minister’s) absence hardly matters,” said Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar after the conclusion of eighth SAARC finance ministers’ conference.
However, Dar hastily added that the individuals do not matter, but countries do, reports the Express Tribune.
Out of the eight-member countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, four did not send their finance ministers. Either their deputy ministers or bureaucrats represented India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives.
India’s Finance Secretary Shashikant Das attended the moot.
Dar said Afghanistan’s finance minister was due to arrive, but an attack on an American University in Kabul led to the cancellation of his visit. Kabul’s ambassador in Islamabad, Dr Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal represented his country at the conference.
While emphasising that regional economic cooperation can weigh out conflicts, Dar said sending finance ministers to attend the moot was an internal decision of every country.
Earlier this month, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh traveled to Islamabad to attend the SAARC interior ministers meeting. However, his visit saw the two neighbours using the SAARC platform to accuse each other over the ongoing violence in Kashmir.