Pak’s normalisation efforts dealt another blow as India downgrades representation for SAARC moot

  • Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa to attend moot now instead of Finance Minister Arun Jaitely
  • Observers say India making efforts to misuse its muscle power to dictate its terms to all regional states

Pakistan’s efforts to normalise relations with India suffered another blow on Tuesday after New Delhi conveyed its decision to Islamabad of downgrading its representation at the two-day South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) finance ministers’ conference commencing on Thursday (tomorrow).

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar – the host of the conference – has already been quoted as saying that Pakistan would play the role of a “good host” and try to keep the overall ambiance positive.

A well placed source informed Pakistan Today that New Delhi had conveyed its decision to Islamabad that instead of its Finance Minister Arun Jaitely, Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa would now attend the moot.

Previously, it was the finance minister of Bangladesh who was reluctant to attend the moot and decided to send in the deputy finance minister in his place.

The finance ministers’ moot is being held as a preparatory arrangement for the upcoming meeting of the 19th SAARC heads of the state summit to be held in Islamabad on November 9-10.

“Yes, India has conveyed its decision that Arun Jaitely would not attend the moot and the country would be represented by its finance secretary,” added the source requesting anonymity.

Observers believe that India is making every possible effort to misuse its muscle power to dictate its terms to all the regional states, especially Pakistan.

“This is another effort to shift focus from state atrocities being committed in Indian-occupied Kashmir. India wants to downgrade SAARC moot being held in Pakistan. That is the reason it has been using such tactics to shift media focus from Pakistan’s efforts for normalisation in the region through the platform of SAARC,” said another diplomatic source.

The source added that Indian efforts were aimed at dictating terms to its neighbours which would eventually backfire.

“India has been trying to downplay SAARC of late. Not only has it decided not to send its finance minister, it has also used its influence on the Bangladesh government to do the same,” the source said and added that under heavy influence of New Delhi, Bangladesh had also decided to send its minister of state for finance.

“The more India makes efforts to fail the SAARC moot, the more it is being exposed in the region and also at the international level,” added the source.

This is not for the first time that the Indian government has made efforts to make a SAARC moot being held in Pakistan controversial. Recently, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh who had visited Islamabad for SAARC Home Ministers’ conference had also used strong language against Pakistan in an apparent bid to sabotage the diplomatic norms and efforts of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to ease tensions between the nuclear neighbours.

Soon after his visit, Rajnath Singh had also made provocative remarks about Pakistan in Indian parliament. At the home ministers’ moot, Singh had triggered a controversy by using undiplomatic language against the host government.

“There are no good or bad terrorists. Terrorism is terrorism. There should be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs,” Singh had remarked referring to Pakistan’s response on the assassination of Kashmiri freedom fighter Burhan Wani.

Rajnath Singh’s remarks had drawn strong response from Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and the verbal spat had ruined the efforts for a dialogue between the two neighbours.


Comments are closed.