Saarc’s effectiveness has apparently become questionable once again as its member states are waiting for a formal communication from the Saarc Secretariat to call its 19th Summit off as a number of countries opted out from it.However, there had been no communication between the Saarc Secretariat, Kathmandu and the Foreign Ministry here until Wednesday evening.Contacted, Bangladesh Ambassador to Nepal Mashfee Binte Shams told UNB that the mission is not under the channel the Saarc Secretariat maintains while communicating any such decision.She said the Saarc Secretariat will convey its decision to all Saarc member states through their respective foreign ministries. “That channel it follows usually.”Diplomatic sources in Nepal, however, said the Saarc Summit will be called off as Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan followed India’s decision to stay away from the November Summit to be held in Islamabad.Quoting Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria, Radio Pakistan on Wednesday, however, reported that Pakistan will host the 19th Summit.The report did not mention how Pakistan will host the event without four Saarc members.
Earlier, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam on Wednesday said the decision to boycott Islamabad Saarc Summit is purely Bangladesh’s own decision.“It (BD decision) has no relation with other countries’ decisions. It’s our own decision,” he told reporters at his office at the Foreign Ministry.Without taking any name, Shahriar said a particular country’s repeated attempts to interfere in Bangladesh’s internal affairs has created an environment which is not conducive to successful holding of Saarc Summit.”We’ve conveyed it to current Saarc chairman (Nepal and Saarc secretariat) on Tuesday that Bangladesh is not attending the Summit,” he said.Bangladesh, as the initiator of Saarc process, the State Minister said, believes in regional cooperation and connectivity which was also conveyed to the Saarc chair and Saarc Secretariat. “When time and scope will be available, Bangladesh will attend such events,” he added.The relations between Bangladesh and Pakistan have deteriorated sharply in recent years after Pakistan’s repeated interference in Bangladesh’s internal affairs following the trial and execution of war criminals in Bangladesh.The state minister said Bangladesh will never compromise, and never compromised in the past either, in terms of issues related to the trial of war criminals and execution of the killers of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.Dhaka strongly protested Islamabad’s meddling in its internal affairs and last year Bangladesh expelled a Pakistani diplomat for alleged funding of Islamist extremists.Meanwhile, the 19th Saarc Summit, scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November, has finally been postponed after Bangladesh and India on Tuesday announced its inability to join it apparently amid regional tensions.The summit is automatically postponed or cancelled if one member-country skips the event, Kathmandu Post reported on Wednesday.However, an official here said they are yet to receive any message of postponement from the Saarc Chair Nepal.Earlier on Tuesday, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi decided to refrain from joining the Summit.Bhutan and Afghanistan will also skip the summit, diplomatic sources in Dhaka and New Delhi told UNB.State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam told the news agency on Tuesday night that the Foreign Ministry has written to the Saarc Secretariat and current Saarc chair conveying Bangladesh’s decision.Talking to UNB, a senior official here, on Tuesday night said the Prime Minister has decided to skip the summit following Pakistan’s ‘repeated and shameless’ interference in Bangladesh’s internal affairs over the trial of war criminals.The Ministry of External Affairs, India on Tuesday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not travel to Islamabad to participate in the Saarc summit in November as the atmosphere is “not conducive to a successful summit”.India has conveyed to current Saarc Chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of Member States by one country have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th Saarc Summit in Islamabad in November 2016.”In the prevailing circumstances, the government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad,” it said.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is likely to have a bilateral meeting with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Goa on October 16, where they are likely to discuss the future steps on regional cooperation.Bangladesh Finance Minister AMA Muhith and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan skipped the two Saarc ministerial-level meetings in Islamabad citing domestic compulsion.On September 19, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh ‘firmly stands’ beside India at this difficult hour and expressed deep shock at the terrorist attack on the army base at Uri, Kashmir.’In line with its ‘zero tolerance’ policy against terrorism and violent extremism, Bangladesh firmly stands beside India at this difficult hour,’ she wrote to her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.Bangladesh officials said Bangladesh and India will continue to work together in their ‘common endeavour’ to eradicate the menace of cross-border terrorism from this region and beyond and both the leaders will further discuss it the Goa event.Diplomatic sources said four countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal — have progressed much with BBIN initiative leaving Pakistan and these countries along with Afghanistan and Sri Lnaka are exploring options how to precede further without Pakistan.