In­dian-Pak Ten­sions Grow As Ma­jor Sum­mit Is Post­poned

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Asum­mit of South Asian As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion (SAARC) lead­ers set for Is­lam­abad in Novem­ber has been post­poned in­def­i­nitely, the Pak­istani Gov­ern­ment said, amid ris­ing ten­sion be­tween arch-ri­vals In­dia and Pak­istan.

In­dia’s for­eign min­istry ear­lier an­nounced that it would skip the meet­ing, blam­ing Pak­istan for a deadly as­sault this month on an army base in the dis­puted Hi­malayan state of Kashmir. Pak­istan de­nies the ac­cu­sa­tions. In­dia’s de­ci­sion was fol­lowed by Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan ex­press­ing their “in­abil­ity” to at­tend.

“Pak­istan de­plores In­dia’s de­ci­sion to im­pede the SAARC process by not at­tend­ing the 19th SAARC Sum­mit at Is­lam­abad on 9-10 Novem­ber 2016,” the for­eign of­fice said in a state­ment. A spokesman for In­dia’s for­eign min­istry said on Twit­ter: “We note Pak­istan’s de­ci­sion to post­pone SAARC sum­mit. They’ve been com­pelled to recog­nise the re­gional sen­ti­ment against ter­ror­ism.” In­dia said on Thurs­day that it had sent troops across its dis­puted bor­der in Kashmir to kill men pre­par­ing to en­ter its ter­ri­tory and at­tack cities. Pak­istan has re­jected In­dian claims of “sur­gi­cal strikes” into its ter­ri­tory and main­tained that In­dia fired un­pro­voked from its side of the heav­ily mil­i­ta­rized fron­tier in Kashmir, killing two sol­diers. This area has been the flash­point for two of three wars be­tween the nu­cle­ar­armed neigh­bours since 1947. In­dia’s an­nounce­ment of the raid on Thurs­day raised the pos­si­bil­ity of mil­i­tary es­ca­la­tion that could wreck a 2003 Kashmir cease­fire.

In­dia evac­u­ated more than 10,000 vil­lagers liv­ing near the bor­der, and or­dered se­cu­rity forces to up­grade sur­veil­lance along the fron­tier in Jammu and Kashmir state, part of the two coun­tries’ 3300 kilo­me­tres bound­ary. Hun­dreds of vil­lages were be­ing cleared along a 15-kilo­me­tre strip in the low­land re­gion of Jammu and fur­ther north on the Line of Con­trol in the Hi­malayan moun­tains of Kashmir.

Pak­istani pro­test­ers burn a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of an In­dian flag.

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