NEW DELHI: After being isolated regionally Pakistan on Friday officially announced postponement of the 19th SAARC summit scheduled to be held in its capital after Sri Lanka became the fifth country to pull out from the regional blocking citing terrorism as the issue. Also the US and Russia urged Pakistan to take steps to counter terrorism effectively.
A day after India announced its surgical strikes and informed 22 envoys, including those from neighbouring countries, of the reasons behind it Sri Lanka announced its decision citing the non-conducive environment in the region, followed by Pakistan’s announcement postponing the summit. In its announcement Pakistan blamed India for “derailing” the regional bloc SAARC.
“Pakistan deplores India’s decision to impede the SAARC process by not attending the 19th SAARC summit at Islamabad…. The decision by India to abstain from the Summit on the basis of unfounded assumptions on the Uri incident is futile effort to divert attention of the world from the atrocities perpetrated by India in the Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” the Pakistan Foreign Minsitry’s statement said.
The statement by Pakistan did not mention name of the other member-states who withdrew from attending the summit citing terrorism and violence in the region. Apart from India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka has conveyed their decision to not to attend the summit.
Earlier in the day, Colombo issued official statement withdrawing from the Summit contending that the prevailing environment in the region is not conducive for holding the SAARC Summit.
The statement made no reference to the current tension between India and Pakistan, but it “condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations”. It stressed on the need to deal with the issue of terrorism in the region in a decisive manner. “Peace and security are essential elements for the success of meaningful regional cooperation for the benefit of the people of South Asia,” the statement added. Sri Lankan national cricket team had come under terrorist attack in 2009 when it was traveling to Lahore.
Tensions have been running high between India and Pakistan after terrorists stormed an Indian Army base in Uri on 18 September, killing 18 soldiers. The militants belonged to Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist group.
Russia also issued a statement on Friday asking Pakistan to clamp down on terrorist activities on its soil. “We expect that the Government of Pakistan should take effective steps in order to stop the activities of terrorist groups in the territory of the country,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said expressing concern at the aggravating situation along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan.
The US also cautioned both the countries against escalation while strongly condemning the Uri terror attack. The US Ambassador to India Richard Verma also cut his foreign visit short and returned to New Delhi on Thursday.