ISLAMABAD – The Saarc summit 2016 has been postponed after four out of eight members – India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan – pulled out of a regional summit of South Asian leaders in Pakistan.
The summit was due in November 2016 in Islamabad. The new date is yet to be announced.
Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan on Wednesday pulled out of a regional summit of South Asian leaders in Pakistan, a day after India said it would boycott the event over a militant attack on an army base in Uri, Occupied Kashmir.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit cannot take place even if only one of the eight members withdraws.
Bangladesh on Wednesday said it has communicated its inability to attend the summit to current SAARC chair, Nepal.
In separate statements, Kabul and Thimpu also announced their decision to withdraw.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry called India’s move “unfortunate” and said it remained committed to peace and regional cooperation. In a statement, it accused India of meddling in Pakistan’s internal matters.
Current SAARC chair Nepal said it hoped the issues would be resolved but could not comment on whether the summit would go ahead.
“The host will take decisions regarding the summit,” said Jhabindra Aryal, joint secretary of Nepal’s foreign ministry.
The leaders of the eight SAARC countries — which also include Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives —expressed frustration after the last summit in Kathmandu with the slow pace of progress towards greater regional integration.