India irked as Pakistan plays spoilsport at Saarc

India irked as Pakistan plays spoilsport at Saarc

Uncertainty over Modi's visit to Islamabad for Nov summit

India irked as Pakistan plays spoilsport at Saarc

While uncertainty looms large over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Islamabad for the Saarc summit in November, Pakistan’s resistance to several initiatives by the bloc too has peeved India.

Pakistan is set to host the 19th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) in Islamabad on November 9 and 10.

Though the prime minister was expected to attend the summit, the recent escalation of tension in the  India-Pakistan relations over the unrest in Kashmir cast a shadow over his visit to Islamabad.

New Delhi is yet to confirm if the prime minister will go ahead with his proposed visit, notwithstanding Pakistan’s recent bid to launch a global campaign accusing India of committing atrocities on Kashmiris.

India is irked by Pakistan’s attempts to cash in on the unrest in the Valley, following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with the security forces. Sources told DH that the prime minister’s visit to Islamabad was proposed for attending a multilateral conclave.

But Pakistan’s baseless charges against India and its persistent bid to incite violence and extremism in Jammu and Kashmir and continued export of terrorism had created an atmosphere, which perhaps will not be conducive even for such visits, said sources in New Delhi.  What India is also irked at is that Pakistan has been persistently playing spoilsport in the South Asian nations’ pursuit for regional connectivity.

The Saarc leaders were set to ink two pacts during the 18th summit of the eight-nation bloc in Kathmandu in November 2014 — Regional Railways Agreement and Motor Vehicle Agreement for Regulation of Passenger and Cargo Vehicular Traffic. But Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif maintained that his government had not yet completed internal procedure for inking the agreements.

If signed by all the eight member countries, the agreements would have made it possible for vehicles and trains — both passengers and cargo — to move from one country to another within the Saarc region without any hassle.

Pakistan is yet to ratify the Saarc convention on Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters and is also blocking the establishment of the Saarc Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk and Saarc Drug Offences Monitoring Desk.

Sources also said that several other Saarc member nations had also shared India’s disappointment with Pakistan, which had been persistently blocking many initiatives by the Saarc for better connectivity within South Asia or for strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to visit Islamabad next week to attend a meeting with his counterparts from other Saarc nations. New Delhi decided against Jaitley’s visit to Islamabad in view of Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s unpleasant experience in Islamabad during a meeting with his counterparts from the South Asian nations. Bangladesh’s Finance Minister A M Abdul Muhith is also unlikely to attend the meeting in Islamabad on August 24 and 25.

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