Pakistan Keen To Revive SAARC Summit and Engage India

Can SAARC summit be revived under the new Pakistan PM Imran Khan? Is Pakistan trying to expunge conflicts on terror activities by strengthening its ties with SAARC Countries? Pakistan seems extremely keen to hold a meeting of foreign ministers and representatives of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries after the successful BIMSTEC summit in Nepal.

After the recent successful BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu and with the regional grouping gaining influence in the wake of a virtually non-operational SAARC, Pakistan is trying to recommence the defunct SAARC summit in its capital city of Islamabad.

With a new Government in Pakistan, and its foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi expected to represent it, Islamabad is certain to rake up the Kashmir issue in a major way and New Delhi is expected to hit back strongly.

Pakistan remains extremely keen on the resumption of the regional meeting and for the next SAARC summit to be held in Islamabad.  However, India is in no mood to assist as it wants concrete actions by Pakistan to rein in terrorists operating from the Pakistani soil.

A few months ago India “does not contemplate any SAARC summit” in the near future as Pakistan continues its policy of being actively involved in sponsoring cross-border terrorism. Sources had then said that “one country” — an obvious reference to Pakistan — continues its policy of sponsoring terror.

It may be recalled that the South Asian grouping SAARC was described last year by the then foreign secretary S. Jaishankar as a “jammed” vehicle. Recalling the 19th SAARC summit, which was scheduled to have been held in Islamabad in 2016, it was “indefinitely postponed” after India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan among others pulled out of the event.

India had then indicated cross-border terrorism as the reason for pulling out of the summit after the Pathankot and Uri terror attacks. Despite tensions over Kashmir, India and Pakistan are continuing with humanitarian gestures such as the release of prisoners in their countries, including fishermen, claiming that the two countries are also exploring ways for “deeper engagement”.

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