Ahead of the stone laying ceremony of Kartarpur corridor by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday threatened to pull out of the SAARC Summit, stating that there would be no dialogue with Pakistan until it stops sponsoring terrorist activities.
“Unless and until Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India there will be no dialogue and we will not take part in SAARC,” Swaraj said at a press conference in Hyderabad.
On Tuesday, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Faisal commented that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be invited to the summit. In 2016, India had pulled out of the 19th SAARC summit that was to be held in Islamabad after the deadly terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in J&K’s Uri.
The summit had to be called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to attend. The Maldives and Sri Lanka are the remaining two members of the regional grouping. No SAARC meeting has happened ever since.
Swaraj’s statement today came hours earlier the foundation stone laying ceremony for the much-awaited corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in
Kartarpur — the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev — to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district.
India had earlier sought Pakistan’s co-operation in opening the Kartarpur corridor, which will help visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.
“I am very glad that for the last 20 years, India has been asking for the Kartarpur Corridor and for the first time Pakistan has agreed to it now,” said Swaraj.
“But that does not mean that bilateral talks will start only on this,” she stated, adding terror and talks cannot go together.
Swaraj, who is campaigning for the BJP in Telangana, had declined to attend the stone laying event in Pakistan due to “prior commitments”. Instead, she nominated Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri to represent India.