Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj left the SAARC inter-ministerial informal meeting midway on Thursday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi attacked the Indian minister over the development and said the attitude of only one country was hampering the spirit of the SAARC as he accused India of being an obstacle in regional cooperation.
“In the progress of SAARC only one country’s behaviour is the stumbling block. 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,” he said.
Qureshi’s comments came after he participated in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation council of foreign ministers meet in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attended the meeting but left early as she had other meetings scheduled.
Before leaving the meeting, Swaraj made India’s stance clear at the SAARC meeting that India won’t engage in regional cooperation when terrorism was posing a clear danger to South Asia.
“The number of threats and incidents that endanger South Asia are on the rise. Terrorism remains the single-largest threat to peace and stability in our region, and indeed in the world. It is necessary that we eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms, without any discrimination, and end the ecosystem of its support,” she said.
“I would like to stress that meetings, including high-level ones can only be effective if expressions of resolve are translated in to concrete action on the ground,” Swaraj added.
Qureshi said he did not talk to his Indian counterpart.
“She left the meeting mid way. May be she was not feeling well,” he told reporters after the meeting.
“She (Swaraj) talked about regional cooperation. My question is that how is regional cooperation possible if the nations in the region are ready to sit and you are the obstacle in those talks,” he said.
Qureshi said of the nations want to achieve something from the SAARC forum they need to move forward.
“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,” he said.
The remarks came days after cancellation of proposed talks between Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan by New Delhi.
(With agency inputs)