NEW DELHI: India has rejected Pakistan’s proposal to be lenient in joining the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit.
India had pulled out of the SAARC summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad in 2016 after Pakistan-based terrorist groups on its military base, which led to suspension of the summit of the regional forum.Earlier, on September 14, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan sent a letter to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi requesting him to join SAARC summit in Islamabad.
“..the SAARC Summit in Islamabad will offer an opportunity for you (Modi) to visit Pakistan and for us to restart the stalled dialogue process,” Imran said.
Imran has also written a letter to Indian foreign minister, seeking to restart bilateral talks on key issues “challenging the relationship”, including terrorism and Kashmir.
Imran also proposed for holding of a foreign minister-level meeting on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to be held in New York this week.
In response to Imran’s letter, Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of Indian Ministry of External Affairs, at a weekly press briefing on Thursday, said New Delhi will not shift from its stand on SAARC summit.However, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj will hold a meeting with her Pakistan counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UNGA.
The two countries are going to hold a rare foreign minister-level meeting for the first time after 2015. So, the upcoming meeting bears some significance.Sushma Swaraj is also scheduled to meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali at the UNGA.
“We, however, owe it to our peoples, especially the future generations, to peacefully resolve all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, to bridge differences and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome,” said Imran in his letter.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief thanked Modi for his “warm greetings” and best wishes on his assumption of charge as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Pakistan and India have an “undeniably challenging relationship”, Imran said in response to Modi’s letter to him on August 18.
Earlier, Modi congratulated Imran on becoming Pakistan prime minister and conveyed New Delhi’s commitment to pursue “meaningful” and “constructive” engagement with Islamabad. He also underscored the need for joint efforts to create terror-free South Asia.
Raveesh said India sticks to its gun for not attending SAARC summit until and unless Pakistan stops patronising terrorists.
India is yet to set agenda for meeting between Sushma Swaraj and Shah Mahmood Qureshi.