Pakistan ready to host the 19th SAARC summit, invites India to join virtually

The summit was called off after other countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan backed out to participate in the meet.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Monday that his country is ready to host the 19th annual SAARC summit in Islamabad and India can join the summit virtually if the Indian leadership is not willing to visit.

While addressing a press conference, FM Qureshi highlighted the achievements of his ministry during the outbreak of COVID-19 and accused India of making SAARC a dysfunctional organisation by refusing to come to Islamabad for the annual summit meeting.

On asked about the invitation to the countries for the 19th SAARC Summit, FM Qureshi reiterated, “If New Delhi is not ready to come to Islamabad, it can join virtually, but it should not stop the others from attending the summit” he said.

Since the terror attack on an Indian Army Base Camp in Uri (formerly the State of J&K) in September 2016, created simmering tensions with Pakistan. India had expressed its displeasure and inability to participate in the summit due to the prevailing situations. The summit was called off after other countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan backed out to participate in the meet.

Noting that their relations deteriorated after India withdrew the special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir in August 2019 and India’s airstrikes in Balakot. SAARC is a regional grouping comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The organization promotes the development of economic and regional integration among them.

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