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SAARC Ministers' Meet Called Off After Pakistan Insists on Taliban Presence

The meeting was cancelled due to 'lack of consensus' after several countries objected to Pakistan's proposal.

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi</p></div>
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The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries foreign ministers' meeting, which was scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York on Saturday, has been cancelled over Afghanistan's participation, reported ANI.

The Indian Express quoted sources as saying that "a representative from Afghanistan's mission at the UN in New York" could have attended the meeting if it was held. According to ANI, several SAARC members had also agreed that an empty chair could be kept for Afghanistan.

However, multiple reports quoted sources as saying that Pakistan was against the participation of representatives from the previous Ashraf Ghani government and wanted the Taliban to represent Afghanistan during the SAARC meet. Several members, including India, objected to Pakistan's proposal, and the meeting was cancelled due to 'lack of consensus'.
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Various governments still do not recognise the Taliban regime, who also have not approached the United Nations for credentials.

Nepal was the host of the meet. On Tuesday, 21 September, its foreign ministry sent a letter to the SAARC secretariat, saying that "due to the lack of concurrence from all member states as of today, the informal meeting of the SAARC council of ministers proposed to be held in person on September 25 on the sidelines of the 76th UN General Assembly session will not take place," as per the daily.

The SAARC comprises eight countries of South Asia--Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

On Friday, 17 September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his virtual address at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), had said that the change of power in Afghanistan was not inclusive, and it happened without negotiation.

"This also raises questions over acceptance of the new system as the representatives of women, minorities, and other sections of the Afghan society did not get representation in the government," he had said.

(With inputs from ANI and The Indian Express)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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