FOREIGN Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Thursday said the member countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) had decided to hold the next summit level meeting in Islamabad. According to him, the summit would be held on mutually convenient dates as proposed by Pakistan, adding that all the member states, except India, agreed to hold the next summit level meeting in Pakistan. The decision was taken in a ministerial level meeting of the SAARC countries held in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session.
Though India did not raise objection to the proposal of Pakistan to host the summit but it surely does not mean that New Delhi would actually cooperate for holding of such an event in Islamabad. This is because the last SAARC summit was held in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2014 and the next was to be held in Islamabad in 2016 but could not be held because of virtual boycott by India. In the absence of regular meetings of the forum, SAARC remains almost dormant and an organization on papers alone. The Association has the potential to take care of common woes of the people of the region but unfortunately progress has been marred due to rivalries between the two major member countries. India is unlikely to cooperate for holding of summit in Islamabad next year as it is currently spending all its energies to cause diplomatic isolation of Pakistan. It is hoped that the member countries including India would realize the importance of holding such summits as they are crucial for augmenting cooperation in sectors like economy and tourism besides providing an opportunity to discuss problems and disputes during bilateral meetings.