Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be invited to Pakistan for the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit, Pakistan foreign office spokesperson said today. India had boycotted the SAARC meeting that was to be held in Pakistan in 2016, citing “cross-border terror attacks”. The meeting had to be cancelled after several other nations — Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan — also pulled out.
New Delhi’s decision to skip the summit was part of the global campaign to isolate Pakistan after four terrorists struck at an army base in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri, killing 18 soldiers.
This September, after a soldier and three policemen were killed in Jammu and Kashmir, India turned down Pakistan’s request for a meeting between foreign ministers. A week later, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj made it clear that action needs to be taken on terror before any meeting can happen.
“I would like to stress that meetings, including high-level ones, can only be effective if expressions of resolve are translated in to concrete action on the ground,” the minister said at a meeting of SAARC ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
Word about the fresh meeting comes days after a terror attack at a prayer hall in Punjab’s Amritsar, in which three people died.
Pointing to the attack, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has refused to visit Pakistan for the ground-breaking ceremony of a long-awaited corridor to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sabhib, one of the holiest Sikh shrines. Yesterday, Mr Singh lashed out at Pakistan army chief Qamar Bajwa over the attacks, questioning his army credentials and accusing him of cowardice.
Ms Swaraj said she would also skip the event, citing party-related work ahead of assembly elections in five states. India will be represented by Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri.
Yesterday, on the tenth anniversary of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, in which 166 people died, India hit out at Pakistan for allowing the people responsible – including Lashkar-e Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed — to roam free.
“The planners of 26/11 still roam the streets of Pakistan with impunity. The 26/11 terrorist attack was planned, executed and launched from Pakistan territory. We once again call on the Government of Pakistan to give up double standards and to expeditiously bring the perpetrators of the horrific attack to justice,” the foreign ministry had said in a statement.