Issue Brief on “India and the proposed SAARC Summit in Islamabad”

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On the 6th of January 2022, Arindam Bagchi, the official spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, dismissed the Pakistani offer to host the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation SAARC summit in Islamabad as earlier proposed by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.[1] India has been reluctant to attend the hosting of SAARC by Pakistan since the Uri attack of 2016. Following the 18th SAARC summit that was held back in 2014 in Nepal, India pulled out of the 19th SAARC summit that was scheduled to be held in Islamabad on 15th November 2016, citing the reason to be Pakistan’s alleged involvement in the attack carried out on an Indian army camp in Uri, Kashmir two months earlier. Ever since the attack, the Indian government has been unwilling to join any regional conference supposed to be hosted by Pakistan. The recent dismissal of Pakistan’s offer by the Indian authorities is yet another blow to the two countries’ diplomatic ties.[2]

After the Indian External Ministry released its press briefing to Pakistan’s proposal, Pakistan’s Foreign Office reiterated its offer by stating that India could join the conference virtually if its leaders were unwilling to join physically.[3] The statement was followed by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister urging India not to halt other regional countries from joining the summit.[4] FM Qureshi maintained that the rise of Hindutva proclivities in India had caused deterioration of bilateral ties and seriously damaged the potential of regional cooperation. Bilateral relations remained frozen after India revoked Kashmir’s special political status and relations could not be normalized unless the Kashmir issue was resolved, he added.[5]

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