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Pakistan Isolated? After India, 3 More Nations Pull Out Of SAARC Summit

After India said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not travel to Islamabad for the regional SAARC summit in November, three other members - Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan - have also pulled out of the meet, isolating host Pakistan. The SAARC or South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit cannot take place even if one of the eight members withdraws.

Bangladesh has communicated its inability to attend to current SAARC chair Nepal, saying, "The growing interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh by one country has created an environment which is not conducive to the successful hosting of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016."

Bhutan too re-affirmed its commitment to regional cooperation, but said the recent escalation of terrorism in the region has "seriously compromised the environment for the successful holding" of the SAARC summit in Islamabad. "The Royal Government of Bhutan shares the concerns of some of the member countries of SAARC on the deterioration of regional peace and security due to terrorism and joins them in conveying our inability to participate in the SAARC Summit, under the current circumstances," it said.

In a terse statement Afghanistan said, "Due to the increased level of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan, the President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani with his responsibilities as the Commander in Chief will be fully engaged, and will not be able to attend the Summit." India has said "cross-border terror attacks" have created an environment that is "not conducive" for the meeting. Foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted, "Regional cooperation and terror don't go together. India pulls out of SAARC Summit in Islamabad."

The decision is one in a series of key moves in India's global campaign to isolate Pakistan after four terrorists crossed the border into Kashmir and attacked an army base in Uri, killing 18 soldiers. PM Modi has also reviewed the crucial Indus Waters Treaty, which divides resources from six rivers between India and Pakistan, saying "blood and water can't flow together." Officials said India will now utilise much more of its share of water, which will eat into the surplus that Pakistan had been availing.

Sartaz Aziz, adviser on Foreign Affairs to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said if India pulls out of the Indus Waters treaty, it will amount to "an act of war" and Islamabad has moved the International Court of Justice. On Thursday, PM Modi has called for a deliberation on whether to downgrade Pakistan's status as a trading partner. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has led India's campaign against Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly, calling for the isolation of nations that export terror.

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