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SAARC Summit: Maldives Joins India, 4 Others In Boycott; Pak Isolation Complete

Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and now Maldives. The Indian campaign to isolate Pakistan in the aftermath of Uri attack has worked with Maldives becoming the fifth country today confirming that it will not participate in the annual SAARC summit which is scheduled in November this year in Islamabad. Earlier, Maldives however declined to be the fifth country to do so and instead appealed to the other nations to engage in dialogue through the summit in order to sort out all the issues including terror.

The Government of Maldives has urged the Member States of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to create an environment conducive for holding the 19th SAARC Summit. The appeal by the Government of Maldives' follows the decisions by some of the SAARC Member States who have expressed their inability to attend the Summit scheduled for November due to terrorism, and threats to regional and international peace. The Maldives condemns international terrorism, especially those originating from outside.

SAARC Summit can be convened only with the participation of Heads of State or Governments of all of its Member States. The Maldives encouraged States to provide a valuable opportunity for the leaders to discuss critical issues facing the region and expressed hope that the required measures will be taken by relevant member states to convene the Summit at an early date.

Pakistan on Friday formally postponed the SAARC Summit. This after India and five other member states of the regional grouping decided to boycott the event. "Pakistan deplores India's decision to impede the SAARC process by not attending the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad on 9-10 November 2016," the Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement. It claimed that the spirit of the SAARC Charter was "violated" when a member state cast the shadow of its bilateral problems on the multilateral forum for regional cooperation.

India, the largest member of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), announced its decision to pull out hours after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit was summoned to South Block and handed over Pakistan's "proof of cross-border origin" of the September 18 Uri terror attack.

After the Uri attacks, the Indian government has been using all possible avenues to try and isolate Pakistan diplomatically. As a part of that strategy, the Indian Government had refused to attend the SAARC summit in Islamabad and is lobbying its other neighbors to do the same. India is also planning to revoke the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan in trade, in another punishing measure.

India has been increasing its diplomatic offensive against Pakistan over the past few days for its open backing of the Kashmir unrest and specially after the terror attack on an army camp in Uri on September 18 that left 19 soldiers dead. SAARC was founded in 1985 and its members are Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The last SAARC Summit was held in Kathmandu in 2014. In 2011, the Maldives hosted the 17th SAARC Summit.

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