India-Pak Tensions Bring Saarc Summit Under Question Mark, PM to Skip UNGA, NAM
NEW DELHI: Relations between India and Pakistan have dipped to a point where both sides have hardened postures, and have made it clear that there is no question now of making a move towards possible resumption of talks. Islamabad that had till recently been urging the need for dialogue, has moved back after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on Balochistan that is seen across the border as a “red line”.
As a result the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan might be postponed. While no definite decision has been taken, given the tensions between the two countries it is highly unlikely that Pakistan will walk the extra mile to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi, or that the Indian Prime Minister will accept any such invitation. More so, after the harsh and highly undiplomatic treatment meted out to India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh when he visited Islamabad recently. Saarc summits have always been preceded with assertive diplomatic activity between India and Pakistan in particular, to ensure that the summit proceeds peacefully.
This is not the first time a Saarc summit will be postponed because of increasingly hostility between India and Pakistan, with South Asian leaders having often accused the two neighbours of holding South Asian peace and development to ransom. The 1999 Kathmandu summit had been postponed, and then held in 2002 where then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf walked across to shake hands with the unsuspecting Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However, this did not break the ice, and the hostilities continued.
Pakistan had indefinitely postponed the 12th Saarc summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad in January 2003, and this was held finally in January 2004. The 13th summit to be held in Dhaka was also postponed, and was held later in November 2005. So this has become fairly usual for Saarc with leaders of the other member nations often complaining about the insistence of two countries to play out their differences on a forum intended to bring about peace and stability in the region.
This time the usual opportunities for leaders of India and Pakistan to try and address the animosity on global platforms, before the summit, will not be available either. PM Modi is unlikely to attend the United Nations General Assembly session this year. He is also expected to skip the 17th Non Aligned Movement Summit being held in Venezuela in September this year. Speculation is rife as to who will be sent to represent India, as this is the first time where a PM of India has chosen to not attend a NAM summit, that it had founded. The only exception had been PM Charan Singh who was heading a caretaker government at the time.