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Pakistan hints SAARC may be postponed after India and three other members pull out

After India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan have pulled out of the summit, blaming Pakistan for creating a non-conducive enviroment for the summit Photograph: (AFP)

New Delhi, India Sep 29, 2016, 02.00 AM (IST)

The upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit to be held in Islamabad in November could be postponed, Pakistan hinted on Wednesday after India and three other members pullet out of the summit. 

 

Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan indirectly blamed Pakistan for creating an environment which is not conducive for holding the meet,  a day after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided not to attend the SAARC summit citing "the prevailing circumstances", according to Indian news agency PTI. 

 

"As per SAARC rules, the summit will not be held if any member-country refused to attend," Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's advisor on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, was quoted as saying by PTI. 

 

He, however, said this was not the first time that India was not attending the regional summit and that it had earlier also caused the summit to be postponed four times.

 

Aziz added that although it is possible to postpone the summit, the SAARC secretariat has not officially informed the government so far.

 

A formal announcement to this effect will be made by Nepal, the current chair of the SAARC,  Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said earlier. 

 

The four SAARC members, including India, informed the SAARC Chair their unwillingness to attend the summit that was scheduled for November 9-10. 

 

Founded in 1985, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) currently has Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka as its members.

 

Under the SAARC charter, the summit is automatically postponed or cancelled even if one member country skips the event.   

 

Amid brewing tensions between  India and Pakistan following September 18 Uri attack that killed 18 Indian soldiers, cancellation of SAARC summit is likely to draw the world attention yet again after the two countries engaged into a war of words at UN General Assembly. 

 

(WION with inputs from PTI) 
 

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