Pakistan FM walks out before Indian speech at SAARC meeting
High drama was witnessed at the SAARC Foreign Ministers meet at the UN General Assembly as Pakistan boycotted the meeting while Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar gave his address
High drama was witnessed at the SAARC Foreign Ministers meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Thursday as Pakistan boycotted the meeting while Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar gave his address. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has walked out of the SAARC ministers' meeting here before the speech by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
Jaishankar spoke after the boycott said terrorism was a deliberate obstacle to regional cooperation.
Jaishankar left the meeting after his speech and avoided coming face-to-face with Qureshi.
The official Twitter account of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, the ruling party, said of the boycott, "Pakistan will not engage with the butcher of Kashmir."
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi kept away from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Foreign Ministers meeting as Jaishankar was giving his address, and once the Indian minister finished and left, the Pakistan minister made his entry.
Pakistan's action comes even as it has been continually accusing India of hampering South Asian integration and SAARC. "It is not possible for me to sit with the murderer of Kashmiris," Qureshi told reporters after boycotting the speech, according to Pakistani media. Qureshi later returned to the meeting and spoke.
The meeting was presided over by Nepal, the current head of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and its other foreign ministers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka participated.
In his speech, Jaishankar said, "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," he said.
He said the region's nations should instead work together to bring prosperity to the people.
"The example of South Asian Satellite shows how India has been taking up the initiatives that bear prosperity to the neighbourhood. South Asian satellite was launched in 2017 with an intention to arrive at scientific solutions to address poverty in the SAARC region," he said.
Last year, the late External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left the SAARC ministerial meeting held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly after her speech.
Later speaking at a think tank, Qureshi undiplomatically made crude personal comments about her.
Interactions between India and Pakistan at the SARC has been strained because of Islamabad's backing for terrorism.
India refused to participate in the SAARC summit in 2016 in Pakistan after a terrorist attack on an Army base in Kashmir. It was cancelled after Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan also decided not to attend.