New Delhi: In what is being seen as a tit-for-tat policy of Pakistan, the government of that country has decided to give the meeting of the Speakers of the respective Parliaments of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) a miss. The meeting is scheduled to be held in India between 18 February and 20 February. The meeting is being organised in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, in which issues like poverty, development, environment and gender concerns in southern Asia will be discussed.
Pakistan’s decision follows India’s to not to attend the SAARC Speakers’ summit in Islamabad in November 2016, which got cancelled after several other member countries decided not to participate in the event either. Leaders from the countries of the region, home to over 25% of the world population, are participating in the summit. Meanwhile, a source in the Pakistan High Commission has confirmed that no delegation is coming to India from Pakistan on this year’s occasion.
The source also informed सिर्फ़ News that India had invited Pakistan’s National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, but Pakistan decided not to participate in the event because the atmosphere is “not conducive” for the meet.
The tension between India and Pakistan escalated after the terror attack in Jammu & Kashmir’s Uri Army base in September last year. The Indian Army accused militants who had crossed over from Pakistan for the strike that killed 19 soldiers. The Indian Army had responded to the terror attack by destroying some terror launch pads in Pakistan, killing several terrorists and some of their handlers in that country.
The two countries also expelled some diplomats of each other after accusing them of spying.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is scheduled to inaugurate the Indore meeting that is slated to discuss how to achieve sustainable development goals, which is jointly being organised by the Indian Parliament and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Sources said that the presiding officers of Afghanistan, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka have confirmed their participation. The SAARC also includes Bangladesh.
Pakistan had attended a conference on Afghanistan that India had hosted in December. It triggered some hope of the tension subsiding and of a resumption of bilateral talks. But Pakistan government’s decision to skip this conference does not indicate normalcy in the relations.