An official of the Indian High Commission in Pakistan staged a walkout of a SAARC meeting over the presence of a ‘minister’ from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) at the event, news agency PTI said, quoting a source.
Diplomat Shubham Singh, left the meeting to register India’s protest over the presence of PoK ‘minister’ Chaudhary Muhammad Saeed at the SAARC Chambers of Commerce and Industry meeting on the SAARC Charter Day in Islamabad on Sunday.
India considers Kashmir as its integral part and does not recognise any minister for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had earlier on November 29 announced that India will not attend the proposed SAARC Summit in Pakistan and there will be no dialogue with Islamabad until it stops sponsoring terrorism.
Swaraj made it clear that New Delhi will not participate in the SAARC summit and it was not responding to an invite from Pakistan for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the gathering of South Asian leaders.
In 2016, India had pulled out of the 19th SAARC summit that was to be held in Islamabad after the terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri.
The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to attend. No SAARC meeting has happened ever since.
India had, earlier this year, called off a meeting between Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September, citing the “brutal” killing of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and the release of the postal stamps “glorifying” Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani.
India-Pakistan ties nosedived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place. The ties between the two countries had strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016.
(With PTI inputs)