28/09/2016 9:50 AM IST | Updated 28/09/2016 2:18 PM IST

After India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh And Bhutan Withdraw From SAARC Summit In Pakistan

The summit can go ahead only if all members agree to participate.

Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Hours after the Ministry of External Affairs announced India's decision to pull out of the forthcoming SAARC summit in Islamabad in November, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also withdrew from the talks, saying that the current atmosphere is not conducive to the talks going forward.

As per the reports in news agency ANI, Afghanistan has communicated its inability to attend the SAARC meet.

"Due to increased level of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan, H.E. the President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghwith his responsibilities as the Commander in Chief will be fully engaged, and will not be able to attend the Summit."

According to The Indian Express, Bangladesh wrote to the SAARC chair on Tuesday expressing concerns over the scheduled summit in Islamabad.

"The growing interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh by one country has created an environment which is not conducive to the successful hosting of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016. Bangladesh as the initiator of the SAARC process, remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in a more congenial atmosphere. In view of the above, Bangladesh is unable to participate in the proposed summit in Islamabad," the letter said.

Bhutan, too, shared the sentiment. In its statement, the country said that while it is committed to the SAARC process and strengthening of regional cooperation, it is concerned over the "recent escalation of terrorism in the region, which has seriously compromised the environment for the successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016."

"Further, the Royal Government of Bhutan shares the concerns of some of the member countries of SAARC on the deterioration of regional peace and security due to terrorism and joins them in conveying our inability to participate in the SAARC Summit, under the current circumstances," it added.

Yesterday the MEA said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be attending, adding that "regional cooperation and terrorism do not go together".

In response to India's statement, Pakistan said, "While we have not received any official communication in this regard, the Indian announcement is unfortunate.... We will continue to work to that end in the larger interest of the people in this region."

The announcement by India came on a day Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar issued a second demarche to Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit over the 18 September Uri attack and confronted him with proof of "cross-border origins" of the terror strike in which 18 jawans were killed.

The attack has triggered a strong response from India which has reviewed the 56-year-old Indus Water Treaty (IWT), and decide to reconsider the MFN status granted by it, unilaterally, to Pakistan.

According to sources, Nepal could also pull out of the SAARC summit, in which case, it will have to be postponed as, according to the new rules, the summit can go ahead only if all nations are represented.

(With inputs from PTI)

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