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Dhaka Tribune

Saarc meeting cancelled after Pakistan 'sought Taliban inclusion'

The meeting was scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York on Saturday

Update : 22 Sep 2021, 02:04 PM

A meeting of the foreign ministers of the member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or Saarc, has been cancelled after differences emerged over who should represent Afghanistan, The Indian Express reported.

The meeting was scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York on Saturday. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are part of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15 in a lightning offensive as former President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. But, no world power has yet recognised the Taliban government. Pakistan, Afghanistan’s southeastern neighbour, has urged the world to “engage” with the insurgent group and immediately help the new government prevent an imminent economic collapse.


Also Read - Bring back Saarc: A quick Afghan reminder


For the Saarc meeting, Pakistan opposed the participation of representatives from the previous Ashraf Ghani regime. Islamabad instead wanted a representative of the Taliban to participate in the meeting, The Indian Express reported, citing unidentified officials.

Member countries, however, rejected the proposal as the Taliban has not gained international legitimacy.

A senior Indian government official told NDTV that the insurgent group has “no authority” and cannot speak on global platforms.

The former Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, said on Twitter that the matter of representation of Afghanistan “in the meeting became the bone of contention”.

Nepal, the current Saarc chair, said in a letter that the meeting was cancelled “due to the lack of concurrence from all member states”.


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