The 19th SAARC Summit will be held in Islamabad on November 9 and 10, Pakistan announced today.
“The Prime Minister of Pakistan (Nawaz Sharif) has invited the leaders of SAARC Member States to grace the Summit with their presence” and is looking forward to welcoming them in Islamabad, the Foreign Office here said in a statement.
However, it remains unclear whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Pakistan for the summit given the strain in bilateral ties over the issue of cross border terrorism.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had visited Pakistan earlier this month for the SAARC Home Ministers’ meeting during which the chill in ties was evident while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley skipped the ongoing SAARC Finance Ministers’ meeting and instead sent Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das to represent India at the meet.
Pakistan Foreign Office said that nine observers of SAARC have also been invited to attend the summit.
The preparations for successfully hosting the summit in Islamabad are being made by Pakistan, the statement said.
In order to give impetus to the process of preparations, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry today inaugurated a SAARC Summit Cell at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The SAARC Summit Cell is headed by Ambassador Amjad Sial, who is a senior diplomat and Pakistan’s nominee for the next SAARC Secretary General.
The SAARC Summit Cell will closely work with all stakeholders and concerned authorities in Pakistan. It will also liaise with the member states, SAARC observers and the SAARC secretariat for organisation of the summit, the statement said.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is comprised of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.