SAARC summit still on, says Pakistan

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria says no official communication received on India’s decision to boycott SAARC summit.  

Unfazed by the decision of India and three other South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member nations to not participate in the grouping’s summit here, Pakistan on Wednesday said it would go ahead with the event in November.

Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan would host the 19th SAARC summit in November, Radio Pakistan reported on Wednesday.

Mr. Zakaria was quoted as saying that it was learnt from the External Affairs Ministry’s tweet that India is not going to participate in the SAARC Summit.

Mr. Zakaria called the decision “unfortunate.” “While we have not received any official communication in this regard, the Indian announcement is unfortunate,” he said.

Pakistan was committed to regional peace and would continue working for the broader interest of the people of the region, according to the report.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said India is making propaganda to foil the conference that was scheduled to be held in November, according to Pakistan Today newspaper.

Summit to be postponed?

Meanwhile, Geo TV quoting official sources said Pakistan has been forced to postpone the summit due to India’s refusal to participate in it. The TV channel quoted Mr. Aziz as saying that SAARC secretariat has not yet informed officially about postponement of the conference. He said chances were that SAARC Summit will be postponed, according to the report.

Mr. Aziz has added that whenever the conference takes place, it will be held in Pakistan. He said that it was not the first time India was not attending the regional summit and that earlier also, it caused the summit to be postponed four times. He added that even if one of the member pulls out, the conference cannot go on as per schedule.

The conference was previously scheduled for November 9 and 10. Besides India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan have pulled out of the summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment that is not right for the successful holding of the meet.

Another venue?

There were also reports that Nepal, the current chair of the SAARC, is trying to move the conference out of Pakistan in an effort to salvage the summit

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