Drama in New York as Pakistan Foreign Minister boycotts Jaishankar’s SAARC address

S Jaishankar addressing the SAARC Council of Foreign Ministers in New York on Thursday. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar
S Jaishankar addressing the SAARC Council of Foreign Ministers in New York on Thursday. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi boycotted Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's opening statement at the meeting of the SAARC Council of Foreign Ministers in New York on Thursday. 

Shah Mahmood Qureshi "refuses to attend Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar's statement at the meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers," the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party tweeted, saying that the country will not engage with India "until and unless" it lifts the "siege" in Kashmir.

Jaishankar was among the first ministers to arrive for the SAARC Ministerial Meeting, which he attended for over 45 minutes before leaving. Qureshi arrived only after the Indian minister had left the room. 

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (third from left) arrived only after Jaishankar had left. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@SaarcSec
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (third from left) arrived only after Jaishankar had left. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@SaarcSec

With the two foreign ministers boycotting each other's statements, the stage is set for a tense United Nations General Assembly session later today with both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan scheduled to address the gathering. 

Elimination of terrorism in all its forms is a precondition not only for fruitful cooperation but also for the very survival of the South Asian region, Jaishankar tweeted after a SAARC.

"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 on Twitter.

Tensions between the two countries have increased significantly since India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August.

Coming out of the meeting, Qureshi said the SAARC nations have decided to hold the next SAARC Summit in Islamabad and that India is "silent" on the decision to hold the meeting in Pakistan.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional grouping in Asia comprising India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

SAARC Summits are usually held biennially hosted by a member state in alphabetical order. 

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CtoI News Desk
CtoI News Desk – CtoI

Singapore-headquartered online media company targeting Indian Diaspora across Singapore, US, UK and Dubai. Connected to India covers developments around Indians abroad, informing, engaging and entertaining its audiences.

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