As relations between India and Pakistan plummet, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to attend a regional summit in Islamabad next week, said government sources. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, on Tuesday, decided not to attend the SAARC Finance Ministers’ conference scheduled to take place in Islamabad from August 25-26.
However, source further said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would take a final decision on this, but New Delhi is unhappy with the way Pakistan has behaved with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh when he visited for a SAARC conference of home ministers in Islamabad in a first week of August.
Earlier, it was expected that Jaitley would visit Pakistan. Pakistan was planning to play a “good host” during Jaitley’s visit and accord him a warm welcome. However, government sources said that economic affairs secretary Shrikanta Das would represent India at the meet, instead of Jaitley.
The ministerial conference comes in the shadow of Singh’s visit to Islamabad earlier this month where barbs were exchanged between Singh and Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, complete with a tense and uneasy handshake.
Rajnath also made it clear that he was not treated well in Pakistan, confirming that he skipped a lunch hosted by his counterpart during a meeting of SAARC ministers.
“It is true that Pakistan Interior Minister (Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan) invited everyone for lunch. But then he left in his car. I also left. I have no complaints or grudges as I had not gone there to have lunch,” Rajnath Singh told the Rajya Sabha.
The meetings are taking place ahead of the SAARC Summit to be held in November in Islamabad.
“All SAARC countries have a lot of potential to develop together utilising each other’s potentials and energies. The cooperation is necessary in promoting the welfare and improving the quality of life of the people of the region,” said Pakistan finance minister Ishaq Dar.
“The upcoming conference is an important event in this regard,” he added.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation. Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.