Pakistan Isolated: After India, Bangladesh, Bhutan & Afghanistan also pull out of SAARC summit

NEW DELHI:Isolating Pakistan in the region, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan have followed India’s steps and opted out of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Islamabad.

Opting out of the SAARC summit, Bangladesh said that the environment was not conducive because of Pakistan’s growing interference in its internal affairs.

“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,” said Bangladesh Foreign Ministry in a communication sent to the SAARC Chair Nepal on September 27.

According to sources, the communication further said, “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 communication said.

Meanwhile, While reaffirming strong commitment to the SAARC process and strengthening of regional cooperation, Bhutan also conveyed its inability to participate to the SAARC chair over the escalation of terrorism in the region.

“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,” said sources.

Afghanistan has also conveyed that it will not be attending the summit.

Sources said that in a communication to SAARC Chair, Afghanistan said,“Due to increased level of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan, HE the President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani with his responsibilities as the Commander in Chief will be fully engaged, and will not be able to attend the Summit.”

Announcing its decision, India said on Tuesday night that ‘one country’ has created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the Summit.

“India has conveyed to current SAARC Chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of Member States by one country have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016,” External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

With India refusing to participate in the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Islamabad in November, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) spokesperson Mohammed Nafees Zakaria on Tuesday called New Delhi’s announcement ‘unfortunate’.