Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend an upcoming regional summit of South Asian leaders in Islamabad in response to an attack on an army base that New Delhi blames on Pakistani militants.
India’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that it had conveyed to Nepal its decision not to take part in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit.
“India has conveyed to current SAARC Chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region…have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit,” the statement read, adding, “In the prevailing circumstances, the government of India is unable to participate in the proposed summit in Islamabad.”
Modi was scheduled to attend the summit in November, which brings together eight member states in the region.
Tensions have been on the rise between the two arch-rivals since militants attacked an Indian military base in Kashmir on September 18, killing nearly 20 Indian soldiers.
India says the attackers were from a militant group based in Pakistan. Islamabad has rejected India’s claims as “unfounded and premature.”
The attack on the army base has triggered a war of words between the neighbors. Modi recently accused Pakistan of “exporting terrorism.”
Directly after the attack, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh called Pakistan a “terrorist state” that should be identified and isolated.
Some Indian politicians and army veterans have called for a serious response to the assault, including airstrikes on purported training camps on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control (LoC).
Meanwhile, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also accused India of an “unprecedented arms build-up” along the de facto border dividing the disputed region of Kashmir.
Addressing the annual United Nations General Assembly on September 21, Sharif said Pakistan would “take whatever measures… necessary to maintain credible deterrence.”
Sharif also blamed India for imposing “unacceptable preconditions” for potential peace talks over Kashmir, which has already witnessed an increase in mass protests over the killing of a pro-independence figure in early July. Tens of thousands of Indian government troops have been deployed to Indian-administered Kashmir and over 80 people have lost their lives in the ensuing crackdown.