NEW YORK: Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left the Saarc inter-ministerial meeting at a local hotel midway on Thursday without any interaction with her Pakistani counterpart.
Her quick departure shortly after her statement at the Saarc meeting prompted criticism from Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi.
“I am not hesitating in saying that for the progress and success of the Saarc and for the connectivity and prosperity of the region, there is only one obstacle. The attitude of only one country is hampering and not letting the spirit of the Saarc and of the founding fathers fulfilled,” Qureshi said, adding “when it comes to any positive gesture from India’s side, all I can say is that she left the meeting midway, maybe she wasn’t feeling well.”
Terming Sushma Swaraj’s statement at the Saarc meeting “very vague”, Foreign Minister Qureshi said, “She (Swaraj) talked about regional cooperation. My question is that how regional cooperation is possible if the nations in the region are ready to sit and you are the obstacle in those talks.”
Qureshi also reacted to the cancellation of the meeting. “How can one talk of regional trade when you fail to agree on a date for a summit? India is saying the meeting cannot happen until there is conducive environment. How do you define what conducive environment is? It can vary from country to country and person to person”.
Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2018