India's EAM Criticizes Pakistan's Alleged Involvement in Terrorism, Hindering SAARC Meetings
NEW DELHI: In a veiled attack on Pakistan, India's External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, has expressed that India cannot participate in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meetings as long as one member continues to engage in acts of terrorism. Jaishankar emphasized that India will not tolerate a situation where "terrorism happens by night and trade happens by day." The remarks were made at the India International Centre, highlighting the serious issues hindering SAARC cooperation.
Jaishankar acknowledged the lack of recent progress in SAARC, attributing it to a member that fails to meet the basic requirements of good membership, referring to Pakistan. He stressed the need to address terrorism and expressed concerns about the country's involvement in cross-border terrorism while expecting cooperation in other areas. Jaishankar had previously blamed Pakistan for SAARC's inactivity, stating that one member believed cross-border terrorism could coexist with neighborly relations.
At India International Centre Jaishankar said, "You have not heard very much about SAARC because, in the last few years, there isn't very much to hear about. We have not had meetings because you have a member of SAARC who doesn't conform to all the basic requirements of what a good membership is, and that is today an obstacle reality for the SAARC to meet. You know I said we cannot continue with acts of terrorism and say the cooperation will continue to happen nevertheless."
"So, I think there are issues there and it's time to recognize the seriousness of those issues and not allow terrorism to happen by night and trade by day. I don't think the country is well served by that," he added.
SAARC, a regional intergovernmental organization comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, has been affected by the strained relationship between India and Pakistan. Jaishankar reiterated that normalizing relations with Pakistan is not possible due to its persistent involvement in cross-border terrorism. He emphasized that terrorism should not be normalized or become a basis for discussions with Pakistan, asserting the need for a departure from this policy.
Jaishankar expressed his perplexity over the delayed adoption of this position and highlighted the necessity of addressing cross-border terrorism. Until there is a significant shift in Pakistan's stance on terrorism, a normal relationship with India's neighbor remains unattainable. India insists on prioritizing counter-terrorism efforts before engaging in diplomatic discussions, emphasizing the common-sense proposition behind this approach.
The External Affairs Minister's statements underscore India's firm stance on combating terrorism and the need for all SAARC members to conform to basic requirements for membership. By highlighting Pakistan's involvement in acts of terrorism, India aims to draw attention to the serious obstacles preventing the active functioning of SAARC. The comments reiterate India's commitment to regional cooperation while underscoring the importance of addressing terrorism as a prerequisite for fostering stable and productive relationships within the South Asian region.