India won’t participate in SAARC meet in Pakistan

India won’t participate in SAARC meet in Pakistan: Sushma Swaraj

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India would not participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Pakistan.

She was responding to a question on Pakistan’s invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Pakistan for the summit. “We are not responding to it positively,” she said at a press conference in Hyderabad, where she arrived for campaigning for the Telangana Assembly elections.

Ms. Swaraj said, “Unless and until Pakistan stops terrorism activities in India, there will be no dialogue and we will not participate in SAARC”. She had visited Pakistan once and it was she who started the comprehensive bilateral dialogue, she noted. “ But what happened after that? Pathankot happened and Uri happened. We have to take a big picture.”

Sushma Swaraj

The Pathankot incident was a terrorist attack by a heavily armed group against Pathankot Air Force Station part of the Western Air Command in January 2016 when a civilian and many security personnel were killed.

The Minister said the Kartarpur corridor initiative and bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan were two different things.

India had been asking for a corridor, which will facilitate visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan for many years and she was happy that Pakistan had for the first time responded positively.

“I am happy for the two-decade-long demand [for a link between two Sikh shrines in Punjab of India and Kartarpur in Pakistan]. But terror and talks cannot go together,” she said, responding to a query on whether the Kartarpur corridor initiative will have the potential to bring peace between the two countries.

Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan is located across the Ravi river, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. The corridor is expected to be completed within six months.

-PTI, HYDERABAD, NOVEMBER 28, 2018