Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the other day, said that Pakistan looks forward to hosting the 19th SARRC Summit in Islamabad on Nov 9-10 and help take the organisation forward.
Pakistan has formally invited heads of states and governments – including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – for the upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit.
“The prime minister of Pakistan has invited the leaders of Saarc Member States to grace the summit with their presence and is looking forward to welcoming them in Islamabad,” said a statement, issued by the foreign office on Friday.
The formal invitation was sent to the Indian prime minister as well as other Saarc countries at a time when tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi are running high over recent unrest in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and Modi’s controversial statement on Balochistan.
Because of the worsening ties, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley skipped the Saarc finance ministers’ meeting that concluded on Friday.
Although Pakistan formally invited India for the summit, it is not clear if Modi will travel to Islamabad for the key regional conference. Pakistan, at least, is giving the impression that the summit will go ahead as planned.
“The preparations for the successful holding of the summit in Islamabad are being made by Pakistan,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakria.
The spokesperson said in order to give impetus to the process of preparations, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry inaugurated a Saarc Summit Cell at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday.
The Saarc Summit Cell is headed by Ambassador Amjad Sial, who is a senior diplomat and nominee of the Government of Pakistan as Saarc’s next secretary general,
The cell will closely work with all stakeholders and authorities concerned in Pakistan. It will also liaise with the member states, Saarc observers and the Saarc Secretariat for an organisation of the summit.
Pakistan briefs P-5, EU on Kashmir unrest
Meanwhile, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Friday confirmed that India turned down its latest offer of talks on Kashmir.