New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to attend the key SAARC meeting in Pakistan scheduled to be held next week, marking an escalation in the diplomatic row between the two countries.
Jaitley is not expected to join the meeting of finance ministers of the regional grouping in Islamabad during August 25-26, sources told News18.
Economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das, included in the delegation that was to accompany Jaitley, is likely to represent India at the meet, the source said, adding that the government is also evaluating the option of sending a minister of state as the official representative.
However, no formal announcement has been made from the government on the matter so far.
Last week, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was quoted as saying that 'going to Pakistan is the same as going to hell'. His remark came after Home Minister Rajnath Singh's visit to Pakistan early this month.
During Rajnath's visit to Islamabad to attend SAARC ministerial meeting, barbs were exchanged between him and Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, who only had a tense and uneasy handshake at the event.
Also to be noted is that Pakistani authorities had then, did not allow entry of Indian media persons inside the venue of 7th SAARC home ministers meeting in Islamabad.
The finance minister’s absence at the SAARC meet is expected to add to concerns about the regional grouping being hit by periodic tensions between India and Pakistan.