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SAARC summit boycott to yield positive results: Afghan envoy

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: The Afghan envoy on Friday expressed hopes that decision by five countries to boycott South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad will bring positive results and force non-cooperating member nations to walk on the path of peace and partnership.

“Afghanistan and India are at the forefront of supporting SAARC. The recent decision to boycott SAARC summit in Islamabad by India, Afghanistan and others is aimed at finding better ways to improve SAARC,” said Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India, Shaida Mohammad Abdali.

He was speaking at an interactive meeting organized by industry bodies, FICCI and FTAPCCI.

“SAARC should act in a manner it has been desired and aimed at. SAARC means connectivity. SAARC means business. SAARC means peace and stability. But if we see things happening contrary to that, then we must take steps to ensure those who are creating troubles change their course and be cooperative,” the envoy said. He, however, did not name any country.

“We hope the decision not to participate [in the Islamabad summit] will give us a positive result. The positive result would be that those who do not cooperate in the same manner as other SAARC member countries will also start following our path. The path of peace and cooperation. The path which brings ‘win-win’ situation for all. We hope the decision will bring about better results… better future of this region,” Abdali said.

He described relationship between India and Afghanistan as “very unique”.

“No other country can or countries can compete with our true relationship. It’s very unique and it’s very deep. It is based on cordial and friendly ties,” he said.

India and four other SAARC members—Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka—pulled out of the November summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment not conducive for successful holding of the meet.

After four countries, Afghanistan also come up to the fore and boycotted the upcoming SAARC summit be hosted by Pakistan in November.

At that time, the Presidential Spokesman, Haroon Chakhansuri, confirmed that no Afghan official would attend the SAARC summit in Islamabad. “We will not attend the summit at any level,” he told Afghanistan Times at that time.

Moreover, he termed lack of cooperation from Pakistan, especially in the war against terrorism as a core reason behind Kabul’s decision to boycott the summit.

After more than half of the members of SAARC boycotted the summit, Nepal the current chair expressed its opinion. In a statement issued by the Foreign Office of Nepal said: “Nepal regrets that regional environment is not conducive to host 19th SAARC Summit scheduled for 9 &10 Nov’16 in Islamabad (Pakistan). As current Chair of SAARC, Nepal underscores the need for creating a conducive regional environment for the SAARC Summit. Nepal will initiate necessary consultation on successfully holding 19th Summit with the participation of all member states.”

India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka expressed their inability to attend the summit, and it is widely believe that the regional environment remains non-conducive due to the fact that nearly all the countries in South Asia are exasperated with Pakistan for spreading terrorism in their respective countries.

Pakistan was never sincere in fight against militants as the Afghan government had repeatedly asked Islamabad to eliminate the Taliban and Haqqani Network and stop using extremists as strategic assets. Afghan officials have also alleged Pakistan of supporting the Islamic State, also known as Daesh. Security forces have detained several members of Daesh and recovered Pakistani documents from their possession, proving identity of the IS fighters.

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