Don’t boycott Saarc Summit, hold it without Pakistan: Congress

congressNew Delhi, (IANS) The Congress on Wednesday demanded that instead of boycotting the Saarc Summit, it should be held without Pakistan and the neighbouring country must be isolated globally.

This reaction came after Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan decided to join India in boycotting the annual Saarc Summit, scheduled to be hosted by Islamabad in November.

“The government has still not come up with a concrete policy as to how to respond to the Uri attack. After the Uri attack, they said ‘for one tooth, the response will be complete jaw’. But today, they are saying they’ll boycott the Saarc Summit,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari while briefing the media persons.

“There are many challenges in South Asia. This is the world’s least integrated region. Shouldn’t the government think over it that instead of boycotting the Saarc Summit, it would be better to have the summit without Pakistan. Pakistan should be isolated globally,” he added.

Tewari said: “Boycott is the easiest answer, but Saarc as an institutional mechanism serves another purpose. India is one of the founder members and the movers of Saarc. Isn’t it incumbent upon India to explore a situation whereby Saarc can be kept alive, but Pakistan is isolated.”

The Congress also questioned the government’s review of the Indus Waters Treaty.

Tewari said: “For the past three days we have been hearing that the government is reviewing the Indus Waters Treaty. What does this mean? Is the government going to cancel the treaty? Or is the government thinking about building dams on the western rivers?”

“Even if it is thinking on those lines, dams can’t be built overnight. This can be a long-term solution, but the kind of response the nation is demanding, is this of the same kind?” he asked.

“Will the deep state of Pakistan get influenced by this strategy,” Tewari said.

Talking about the larger geo-strategic reality, Tewari said: “We are extremely happy that Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan are on the same page with India. But, there is larger geo-strategic reality. Something more is required to be done to change the behaviour of deep state of Pakistan.”

Tewari also took a dig at Russia, China and the US for their policy on dealing with Pakistan.

“Russia is conducting joint exercises with Pakistani army. China invested in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Iran is talking about the linkage between Chabahar and Gwadar ports and wants to join the CPEC. The US has always had one standard towards terror on the western border of Pakistan and a completely different standard on the eastern border,” said Tewari.

“This is also a geo-strategic reality and we are talking about great powers who can change and influence the behaviour of Pakistan. If we are really serious about isolating Pakistan, delusion cannot be the basis of the policy. Under these circumstances, the government needs to take a hard look,” he added.

Medaram Jathara

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