Sushma Swaraj leaves SAARC meeting in message to Pak to behave
28 September 2018
India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj left mid way from a meeting of member countries of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) ministers, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York today, making India’s stance clear that it won't let terrorism undermine regional cooperation and that terrorism is posing a clear danger to South Asia cooperation.
"The number of threats and incidents that endanger South Asia are on the rise. Terrorism remains the single-largest threat to peace and stability in our region, and indeed in the world. It is necessary that we eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms, without any discrimination, and end the ecosystem of its support," the foreign minister said in an indirect reference to Pakistan as she addressed the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) foreign ministers.
"I would like to stress that meetings, including high-level ones, can only be effective if expressions of resolve are translated in to concrete action on the ground," the minister said.
Her comments are significant after India last week turned down Pakistan's request for a meeting of the two foreign ministers over the killing of a soldier and three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting a meeting of the foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
India initially accepted the request, but a day later, rejected it after the brutal killings of Indian security personnel and Pakistan's move to release stamps glorifying terrorist Burhan Wani, who was killed by security forces in Kashmir in 2016.
"The number of threats and incidents that endanger South Asia are on the rise," Sushma Swaraj said.
The two foreign ministers avoided meeting each other on Thursday.
As Sushma Swaraj left the venue without waiting for his statement, the Pakistani foreign minister said: "In the progress of SAARC only one country's behaviour is the stumbling block. When it comes to any positive gesture from India's side, all I can say is that she left the meeting midway, maybe she wasn't feeling well."
Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi criticised her, saying, “it is understood that Sushma Swaraj had other meetings scheduled.”
Indian officials said Qureshi's allegations are "baseless and away from reality". Sushma Swaraj, said the officials, had "extensively dealt with various SAARC related projects. She also expressed India's unwavering commitment for making SAARC a success as regional grouping.