Commenting on the possibility of conducting future SAARC Summits without Pakistan after member countries refused to participate in the Islamabad summit citing cross border terrorism, Ministry of External Affairs official Spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Thursday said India and other members remain committed to SAARC and its principles and their intention is “not to throw out the baby (Pakistan) with the bath water, our intention is only to clean up the bath water”.
Swarup explained that the Indian government’s priority is to promote closer cooperation and economic integration in the south Asian region.
“Our interests in SAARC remains intact, but our concerns that the connectivity, trade, including MFN and cooperation that SAARC requires and the terror free atmosphere needed for these initiatives is not there at the moment, due to the actions of the one country in our neighbourhood,” Swarup told media here.
The 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November was called off after India pulled out of the event following the September 18 terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri region in which 19 soldiers were killed.
Following this, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangaladesh and Sri Lanka refused to participate in Summit.
Subsequently, Pakistan in Septembers formally cancelled the event. India has been on the diplomatic offensive in its effort to isolate its Asian neighbour ever since it boycotted the event.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the recently concluded BRICS and BIMSTEC outreach branded Pakistan as the ‘mothership’ of terrorism.