The Indian delegation to Singapore’s annual Shangri-La Dialogue pulled out of the conference due to a snub over the ranking of an Indian minister, says a report from The Hindu.
According to the paper, the organizer, the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), had told the delegation led by Indian Minister Subhash Bhamre that he did not rank as highly as Pakistan’s Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, because “civil military relations in Pakistan are different from those in India”.
As a result, Mr Bhamre, who was representing India on behalf of Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, was only allowed to speak at a “plenary session” on the last day of the event, and not sit on one of the panels as the Pakistani General Hayat.
India’s decision to pull out of the security dialogue meant that it would miss a chance to speak with U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis, which would have helped Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the U.S. at the end of this month, as well as meeting the other ministers of defence from Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Canada, among others who attended this year.
The organizer, IISS, said that it “regretted” the Indian decision, and clarified that the Indian delegation had informed them late that Mr Bhamre had wanted to speak. They had originally expected Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley to turn up for the event, but he was unable to accept the invitation.
The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said in a statement that it would take responsibility over the mishandling of the incident, although it did not give any details as to how it would do it.
“The Singapore government took responsibility for what they called an ‘oversight’ in the programme, but the damage is done,” said the senior Indian official who spoke to The Hindu reporters.