New York: Tension prevailed between the two rival neighbours India and Pakistan at the SAARC meet held at New York yesterday. Both the countries boycotted each other’s statements thus escalating the tension between the two. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he would not attend the speech by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar first, announcing at the last minute that he would not attend the SAARC Minister’s lunch while Mr. Jaishankar was speaking.
Mr. Jaishankar left the room after making his statement minutes before the Pakistani Foreign Minister’s arrival, ensuring that the two Ministers were not present in the room together at any point.
Mr. Jaishankar did not comment on the dramatic events at the SAARC meet. Later, tweeting about his speech, he wrote, “Ours is not just a story of missed opportunities but also of deliberate obstacles… Elimination of terrorism is a precondition not only for fruitful cooperation but also for the very survival of the region itself.”
Mr. Qureshi then said he could not “sit and talk” with “killers of Kashmiris.” Mr. Qureshi’s decision was put out in a tweet 20 minutes after the meeting was due to start at a downtown hotel near the United Nations. The tweet, put out by Pakistan’s ruling party the PTI, said Pakistan would not engage with India unless it “lifted the siege and put an end to atrocities in [Kashmir].” The lunch meet then proceeded as scheduled with statements from delegations and ministers from other SAARC countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and the current SAARC chair Nepal who sat through both statements.