Bangladesh stepping on Indian footsteps pulls out of SAARC

DHAKA: Bangladesh on Wednesday pulled out of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit to be held in Islamabad, a day after India said it was boycotting the event over a deadly cross-border attack on a military base.

Bhutan and Afghanistan were also reported to be withdrawing from the November summit after India announced late Tuesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not take part, citing “increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region”.

On Wednesday junior Bangladesh foreign minister Shahriar Alam confirmed that Bangladesh would not attend the Saarc summit.

Indian media cited Dhaka as blaming “the growing interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh by one country”, and said Bhutan and Afghanistan were also planning to withdraw.

The country was not named, but Bangladesh has in the past accused Pakistan of interference for protesting the execution of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders found guilty of war crimes.

South Asia analyst Ashok Malik said the pull-outs would have little practical impact on Pakistan but could push it closer to rival regional power China.

“It basically scores a symbolic and a political victory. As for Pakistan, this will push it even closer to China,” said Malik, head of the Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation’s regional studies initiative.


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