Except one, all South Asian countries for SAARC summit at earliest: Pakistan


Islamabad: Pakistan said on Thursday that all South Asian countries except one want to hold the SAARC summit, which was called off in 2016, at the earliest, in an apparent reference to India.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said at his weekly briefing that Pakistan wanted to hold the summit as early as possible.

“All other South Asian countries except one have also expressed the desire of early happening of the summit,” he said, in an apparent reference to India.

 India in 2016 boycotted the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit citing Pakistan’s unrelenting support to terrorist activities in India and after Pakistan-based terrorists attacked an Indian Army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir. Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan had also joined India in boycotting the summit.

Faisal also criticised India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, calling it “a toxic mix of extremist Hindutva ideology and hegemonic ambitions in the region”.

According to the legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014 facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB has been passed by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. 

 India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the Bill provides expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities already in India from certain contiguous countries.

Faisal said the law was also criticised by the Indian people as discriminatory.

Faisal said the humanitarian situation in Kashmir was worsening, affecting the life and property of millions of people.