Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj reached Abu Dhabi last night for the conference, hours after Pakistan said it would release an Indian pilot captured on Wednesday.
NEW DELHI: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi skipped the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Abu Dhabi over India’s presence.
“I will not attend Council of Foreign Ministers as a matter of principle for (them) having extended invitation as a Guest of Honour to Sushma Swaraj,” Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the joint session of parliament, adding that lower ranking officials would attend to represent Pakistan’s interests.
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj reached Abu Dhabi last night for the conference, hours after Pakistan said it would release a captured Indian pilot, an announcement that helped in de-escalation between the two countries after their first aerial confrontation in nearly 50 years.
In a sign of continuing tension, Mr Qureshi protested to his country’s parliament that the OIC had failed to withdraw its invitation to Sushma Swaraj.
Union Minister VK Singh, reacting to the Pakistan Foreign Minister’s remarks, scoffed: “It is Qureshi’s dimaag (brain). Let him do what he wants.”
India has been invited for the first time to the meeting of the OIC, an influential grouping of 57 Islamic countries, as the guest of honour.
Pakistan, a member of the OIC, tried to get Sushma Swaraj “disinvited” from the Abu Dhabi meet after India’s air strike on a terror camp in Balakot on Tuesday.
Mr Qureshi had said that he would boycott the meeting if Sushma Swaraj participated. Yesterday, he said the OIC is “our home” so he would go, but would not hold talks with the Indian Foreign Minister.
The OIC had disinvited India from its conference in 1969 in Morocco on Pakistan’s urging. The OIC has usually been supportive of Pakistan and often supported Islamabad on Kashmir. The Foreign Minister of UAE Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan had invited Ms Swaraj as the “guest of honour” to address the inaugural plenary and that India was happy to accept the invitation, the foreign ministry had said.
UAE was among the countries that played a part in trying to pull India and Pakistan from the brink after India’s air strike and Pakistan’s retaliatory attempt to target military installations across the Line of Control.
India had sent its fighter planes to bomb a Jaish-e-Mohammed facility days after the terror group attacked a security convoy in Kashmir’s Pulwama, killing over 40 soldiers.