Four SAARC member countries, namely India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan, decided to boycott the 19th SAARC Summit to be hosted by Pakistan. The summit is scheduled to be held in Islamabad from 9 to 10 November 2016.
India was the first nation to boycott the summit. It conveyed to current SAARC Chair Nepal that increased cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in internal affairs of member states by one country created environment which is not conducive to successful holding of Summit.
Later, India was joined by Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan who pulled out of the summit by citing the problem of terrorism in the region.
As per rules, the summit is postponed if any head of state or government decided not to participate in the summit. But a formal announcement can be made only by Nepal after internal consultation. Nepal is the current chair of SAARC.
India’s stand on the boycott
The External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that India's commitment to SAARC’s regional connectivity, contact and prosperity remains intact but it cannot conceive of summit happening amidst cross border terrorism and cross interference in internal affairs of the member countries.
Participation of the Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan conveys the message that Pakistan should introspect in it that what kind of relationship it wants with SAARC countries.
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union in South Asia. Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
It comprises 3% of the world's area, 21% of the world's population and 9.12% of the global economy as of 2015.
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