After an attack from the opposition for boycotting the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit to be held in Islamabad in November, the Sri Lankan government today said in parliament that there was no question of pulling out when there was “no summit to attend.”
“There was no question of pulling out when there was no summit to attend,” Sri Lanka’s foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera told Parliament.
“As the members of this House are aware, the general provisions of the charters of the SAARC prescribe that the decisions at all levels shall be taken on the basis of unanimity. Therefore the moment one country says they are unable to attend the summit, a summit cannot be held. Therefore, there was no question of Sri Lanka pulling out of the summit,” he said.
The foreign minister has clarified in the Lankan parliament that their statement was released only after several countries had issued statements that they are not attending the meet. “We will take part (in the summit) whenever it happens,” he said.
The government was facing a stiff attack from the opposition who accused that Sri Lanka was staying out of the summit to please India while hurting Pakistan. In response to this, Samaraweera said, “Terrorism must unite our region not divide it.” Samaraweera has invited the region’s leadership to forget the past and unite against terrorism.
India first pulled out from the summit followed by Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. After this Sri Lanka issued a statement on September 30 saying that it regretted that conditions were not conducive for holding the Summit. After which Pakistan who was supposed to host the summit in November has postponed it.
India first announced that they are pulling out from the summit in response to Pakistan’s cross border terrorism where an Indian army camp was attacked by Pakistani terrorists killing 19 Indian soldiers. India announced in a statement that “in the prevailing circumstances, the Indian government is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad.”