ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has accused India of failing the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and hindering regional connectivity through its unbecoming behavior.
He was speaking to the media after the annual SAARC council of ministers meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The meeting was hosted and chaired by Nepal’s Foreign Minister, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, and attended by the foreign ministers of SAARC member states. However, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, in a diplomatic snub, walked out of the meeting before Pakistan’s statement.
“The attitude of only one country is hindering the spirit and objectives of the SAARC,” Qureshi told reporters after the meeting.
He also said in his tweet that “…We want SAARC to be a results-oriented body capable of making substantive progress. But I’m disappointed that the prosperity of the entire SAARC region is being held hostage by one nation.”
The single most important meeting yesterday was SAARC CoM. We want SAARC to be a result oriented body capable of making substantive progress. But I’m disappointed that the prosperity of the entire SAARC region is being held hostage by one nation. pic.twitter.com/ewLSmQdWNF
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) September 28, 2018
When asked by reporters in New York if he had spoken to Swaraj, Qureshi said his Indian counterpart left in the middle of the SAARC meeting and that he paid careful attention to her call for regional cooperation but it was India herself that acted as a barrier to that cooperation.
“The foreign minister emphasized that one country was holding the 1.7 billion people of South Asia hostage, while making vague statements and unsubstantiated, whimsical allegations. The SAARC summit has already been delayed by two years, with no end in sight,” said a statement by the Foreign Office.
Pakistan’s foreign minister and his Indian counterpart were set to meet on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York this week but New Delhi called off the meeting last week, citing the killings of Indian Border Security Force personnel near the Pakistan-India border as the reason, in addition to Islamabad issuing postage stamps of slain Kashmiri freedom fighter Burhan Wani.
Pakistan’s leadership had expressed its disappointment on the cancelation of the meeting by India.
Meanwhile, on Friday, Qureshi met the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and raised human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir. He urged the UN secretary-general to play his role in resolution of the dispute, said the Pakistan Foreign Ministry on Saturday in a press statement.