New Delhi: India termed Pakistan’s ‘invite’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the 20th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit in Islamabad as ‘ploy’.
A senior government official, while speaking to The Times of India, said, “India is not a special invitee that Pakistan has the discretion to invite us.” He further added that the date for a Saarc summit is decided with the consent of all the members and that has not happened as of yet. Notably, the formal invitations for the summit are sent out only after a decision on the dates.
The development came a day after a report, quoting Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal, claimed that Pakistan is likely to invite PM Modi for the Saarc summit. Addressing a conference in Islamabad, he reportedly recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan in his first address had said that if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two.
The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu, which was attended by Modi. The 2016 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 died in the attack.
The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet.
The proposed invite to PM Modi comes close to the heels of the opening ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor across Indo-Pak border for Sikh pilgrims on Tuesday. Islamabad invited External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for Kartapur corridor ceremony.
On Thursday, in a significant decision, Narendra Modi-led government cleared a proposal to develop a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the International Border to facilitate Indian pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan.
The government also urged Pakistan to follow suit in their territory — a move welcomed by the neighbouring country, who agreed to build facilities and open the corridor.
Punjab Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who arrived here along with a group of Indian journalists to take part in the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor in Narowal on Wednesday, said the corridor would promote peace and erase “enmity” between India and Pakistan and create infinite possibilities between them.