Afghanistan’s stinging pullout from Saarc Summit
New Delhi, Sep 28 (IANS) Of the four South Asian nations that have pulled out of the Saarc Summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan in November, the message from Afghanistan citing its reasons was a stinging, if indirect, indictment of the Pakistan state’s backing of terror.
The rather curt official message sent to the Saarc Chair Nepal on Tuesday, spoke of the “imposed terrorism” in Afghanistan, leaving little doubt that the reference was to Pakistan.
It explained that Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani would not be able to attend the summit as he would be “fully engaged” in combating the “increased level of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan”, according to sources who quoted the letter.
Islamabad is scheduled to host the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit on November 9-10.
Afghanistan’s decision came after India announced that it was pulling out of the Islamabad summit in the wake of the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 18 soldiers.
New Delhi has blamed the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror outfit for the Uri as well as the January 2 Pathankot airbase attack.
Afghanistan’s decision also comes less than a week after its Vice President Sarwar Danesh, addressing the UN General Assembly, accused Pakistan of backing terrorists waging a “full-scale war”.
Vice President Danesh also warned that Kabul reserves the right to do “whatever is necessary for the defence and protection” of its people and urged the international community to eliminate terrorism safe havens.
In a harsh indictment of its neighbour, Sarwar Danesh told the General Assembly summit, “We have repeatedly asked our neighbouring country Pakistan to destroy the known terrorist safe havens, but we unfortunately are yet to witness any change in the situation.”
Turning to the world leaders in the Assembly chamber, Danesh asked, “Where were the previous leaders of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda residing, and where were they killed? At this very moment, where are the leaders of the Taliban and Haqqani network located? From where and how are terrorists being trained, equipped and financed during a full-scale war?”
Afghan envoy to India, Shaida Mohammad Abdali, has also said that Pakistan should be singled out by the South Asian countries because it jeopardizes regional unity and peace.
Following the diplomatic blitzkrieg launched by New Delhi, Pakistan is virtually getting isolated in the region with Bangladesh and Bhutan joining India and Afghanistan in pulling out of the annual Saarc Summit citing incitement of terrorism in the region as the reason.
Afghanistan’s stance comes following President Ghani’s visit to India earlier this month during which the two countries issued a joint statement expressing grave concern over terrorism in the region.
According to the statement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ghani “discussed the regional situation and expressed grave concern at continued use of terrorism and violence in the region for achieving political objectives”.
“They agreed that this phenomenon presented the single-biggest threat to peace, stability and progress in the region and beyond,” the statement said.
“Stressing that elimination of all forms of terrorism, without any discrimination, is essential, they called upon the concerned to put an end to all sponsorship, support, safe havens and sanctuaries to terrorists, including for those who target Afghanistan and India,” it said.
Also, during a trilateral meeting on September 21 between India, the US and Afghanistan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York, the security situation and the challenges posed by terrorism in the region were discussed.