Putting cross-border terrorism on top of the SAARC agenda, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today said tensions between India and Pakistan do have an impact on the forum, wondering whether the 8-nation group can continue.
The economic activity among the 8-member nation block is low and there is virtually no integration in the South Asian sub-continent, he said, while asking if SAARC is willing to go in for deeper cooperation and integration.
When asked about impact of the current tension between India and Pakistan that has resulted in the cancellation of SAARC summit, Wickremesinghe said: “These are issues that South Asia has to grapple with. It has an impact on SAARC, whether SAARC can continue or not?”
Addressing a press conference at the India Economic Summit here, he further said: “Cross border terrorism is on top of the agenda. Even though we don’t want it to be, it has got there.”
Stating that most of the issues are between Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, he said: “Let’s hope things are resolved.”
Commending Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Indian political leaders, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi and ex-prime minister Manmohan Singh, for being very restrained and for far sighted approach, Wickremesinghe said: “It is a very very difficult situation in which media can drive you to take extreme steps which are not conducive… I know the difficulties, I have gone through that. You have been taking a really diplomatic approach.
“…it shows the maturity as far as the world leadership is concerned and I think the approach should be to back the political leaders.”