Indian diplomat walks out during SAARC summit, takes offence to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir minister’s presence

(Photo source: News18)

  • An Indian diplomat, Shubham Singh, walked out on the SAARC summit hosted by Islamabad in protest to their Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) minister being present at the event.
  • Not only was the PoK minister for Pakistan present, but was asked to come up to the dias to address rest of the committee, according to a Times of India report.
  • India, as a policy, has refrained from acknowledging the authority of any ministers appointed by Pakistan in the disputed territory.

An official of the Indian High Commission in Pakistan, Shubham Singh, walked out during a South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meeting in Islamabad on Sunday as per the Times of India.

His actions were registered as a sign of protest over the presence of Pakistan’s minister for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), Muhammad Saeed, at the event.

PoK has been a hot-button issue between India and Pakistan due to its strategic importance to both nations. And never before, at least during a SAARC summit, has the PoK minister been invited to attend the negotiations since its underlying mission is to achieve regional cooperation and the PoK issue is in direct contradiction of that directive.

Singh reportedly left the meeting as soon as Saeed was invited to speak at the dais during the event’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry meeting.

The doom of SAARC?

Prior to this, the most recent incident where Pakistan reportedly tried to ‘legitimise’ PoK in the eyes of the international community was when Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, Imran Khan, was sworn in.


India maintains that Kashmir is an integral part of the country and doesn’t recognise the authority of a ‘minister’ for the people in PoK.

This SAARC meeting was the first to be initiated in a long time. In 2016, India pulled out of the 19th SAARC summit that was also supposed to hosted by Islamabad in retaliation of the terrorist attack in Uri on an Indian Army base.

After India pulled out, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also pulled out stating that, “We are against terror, against terrorist country and against any country that supports terror.”


There have been no subsequent SAARC summits since then.

Pakistan has been accused of repeatedly trying to derail international negotiations by bringing up the issue of PoK during international summits, especially those presided over by the United Nations.

India’s stance has been that while it too agrees with the gravitas of the situation, its repeated resurgence on international platforms undercuts a lot of other important policy decisions that have be addressed.