New Delhi: Tension between India and Pakistan flared up at the meeting of SAARC Council of Foreign Ministers after Shah Mahmood Qureshi boycotted S Jaishankar’s opening statement at the gathering. Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, did not turn up for S Jaishankar’s statement and keep the other ministers waiting without any prior notificaiton. He came later only when India’s External Affairs Minister Jaishankar left the meeting venue.
Referring to the restrictions in J&K, Qureshi said that his country will not engage with India ‘until and unless’ it lifts the “siege” in Kashmir. “Do you think I will sit down with the butcher of Kashmir?” the Pak Minister reportedly asked.
Lambasting Pakistan over this, an Indian official asserted that such drama will not work. “They have to create a conducive atmosphere for the SAARC process to go ahead”, a leading portal quoted the official as saying.
Last month, to mark its protest against the Narendra Modi-led government’s move to abrogate Article 370 in Kashmir, Pakistan had downgraded diplomatic ties. Besides, it had also expelled the Indian ambassador Ajay Bisaria.
Meanwhile, Jaishankar at the Foreign Ministers meeting, reiterated India’s stand against terrorism and also highlighted India’s contributions to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
“Ours is really not just a story of missed opportunities but also of deliberate obstacles. Terrorism is among them. In our view, elimination of terrorism in all its forms is a precondition not only for fruitful cooperation but also for the very survival of our region itself,” Jaishankar said.
In 2018, the then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had left the room after her statement at the SAARC Council of Ministers’ meeting, amid tensions between the two countries following the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir.