Amid ongoing tensions with Pakistan over the issue of terrorism, India has decided to pull out of the regional summit of South Asian nations scheduled in November in Islamabad. The Indian ministry of external affairs said on Tuesday (27 September) that they have conveyed their decision to Nepal, the Chair of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit.
In line with India's decision, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan have also decided to not participate in the regional summit to be hosted by Pakistan.
Explaining its decision to keep away from the summit, Dhaka said in a statement: "Bangladesh, as the initiator of the Saarc process, remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in a more congenial atmosphere. In view of the above, Bangladesh is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad," NDTV reported.
The statements from Bhutan and Afghanistan also cited similar reasons for pulling out.
India's decision comes in response to the deadly Uri attack at an army base on 18 September in which 18 soldiers were killed by militants. India has accused its neighbour of harbouring terrorists and demanded that Pakistan be declared a terrorist state.
To isolate the country, India has made two major diplomatic moves in the past two days. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a review meeting to discuss the decades-old Indus Waters Treaty between the two nations and announced another meeting on Thursday, 29 September to review the "most favoured nation" status to Pakistan given in the 1960s under a World Trade Organization agreement. To further isolate the country, India has now decided not to go to Islamabad for the upcoming Saarc summit.
"India has conveyed to current Saarc Chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of member states by one country have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th Saarc summit in Islamabad in November 2016.
"India remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in an atmosphere free of terror. In the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad," the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.