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  India   All India  28 Nov 2018  Post Kartarpur, Pak to invite PM Modi for Saarc

Post Kartarpur, Pak to invite PM Modi for Saarc

THE ASIAN AGE. | SHAFQAT ALI
Published : Nov 28, 2018, 1:05 am IST
Updated : Nov 28, 2018, 1:05 am IST

Pointing to Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur border corridor, the Dr Faisal said, “This is a great achievement and success.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (Photo: AP)
 Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (Photo: AP)

Islamabad: Riding high on the goodwill generated by inauguration of the Kartarpur pilgrimage corridor, Islamabad on Tuesday renewed efforts to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) conference in Pakistan, the foreign office said.

India had boycotted the Saarc meeting that was to be held in Pakistan in 2016, citing the attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir. The meeting had to be cancelled after several other nations — Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan — also pulled out.

 

Speaking at the “Kashmir Conference” in Islamabad on Tuesday, foreign office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal shared Prime Minister Imran Khan’s plans to invite Mr Modi for the regional summit.

He said that Mr Khan, in his first address after taking oath, had made it clear that if India takes one step forward, Pakistan would take two.

Dr Faisal, hinting at the unanimity achieved by the neighbours on building the Kartarpur corridor which will link two Sikh shrines, on either side of the border, said that Mr Khan in his response to Mr Modi’s congratulatory letter had expressed Pakistan’s openness to resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue with India. “We fought a war with India, relations cannot be fixed quickly. PM Modi will be invited for Saarc conference,” Dr Faisal said.

 

The dates of the Saarc summit in Pakistan are not known.

Commenting on the Kashmir issue, Dr Faisal said that despite Pakistan’s efforts to resume peace talks, India has been running away from the dialogue process. “We want to resolve the issue through dialogue… our first target is to stop human rights violations in the Kashmir,” he stated. Saarc summits are usually held biennially and are hosted by a member state in alphabetical order. The member state hosting the summit assumes the Chair of the Association. The last Saarc Summit was held in Kathmandu in 2014, which was attended by Mr Modi. The Indian Prime Minister had also invited heads of states of Saarc nations to this oath-taking ceremony in May 2014.

 

The 2016, the Saarc summit was to be held in Islamabad but after the terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18 that year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to “prevailing circumstances” and stepped up diplomatic pressure on Pakistan. Nineteen Indian soldiers had died in the attack.

The fate of the regional cooperation body is in doldrums ever since Indian external affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had left a Saarc meeting before hearing Pakistan’s statement on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in September.

Pointing to Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur border corridor, the Dr Faisal said, “This is a great achievement and success.”

 

On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister will be joined by two Indian ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri to lay the foundation stone at the corridor’s Pakistani side, where pilgrims from India will be able to visit their revered Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara by November 2019, to mark the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak.

No Indian minister has visited Pakistan since home minister Rajnath Singh’s Saarc visit in 2016, which was followed by the Uri attacks. In retaliation to the attacks,  New Delhi launched strikes in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Tags: prime minister narendra modi, saarc, imran khan, jammu and kashmir