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SAARC: How far have we come?

Published Dec 07, 2012 01:04pm


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The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation celebrates its 27th anniversary on Saturday, December 7. The eight-nation organisation was formed in a bid to promote “peace, stability, amity and progress in the region” with particular respect for the “principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, national independence, non-use of force and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states and peaceful settlement of all disputes.”

While over the decades, relations between the member nations have improved, particularly in terms of economic and trade ties, it cannot be said that the SAARC countries have managed to fully adhere to the charter in letter and spirit.

Peace remains a crucial issue, in most of the eight countries and especially in the Pak-Afghan part of the region. The Indo-Pak deadlock over Kashmir remains a hurdle in improving relations between the two countries in particular and in the region, in general.

On the other hand, recent violence in Myanmar and the exodus of Rohingya Muslims towards Bangladesh and India had shown that heads of the states, over the years, have failed to find a workable solution to the problem.

While Sri Lanka has put its 26-year civil war, between the government and the Tamil fighters, there remain shrouds of instability in the island nation.

Afghanistan, which became a part of SAARC in 2007, is still reeling from decades of conflict and has a long way to go before it achieves stability.

Meanwhile, visa exemption – in a bid to promote people-to-people contact – is only applicable in certain countries and is limited to dignitaries and other high-ranking officials, as opposed to the common man.

Is it possible for the SAARC nations to implement the charter and work towards the promotion of peace and stability in the region?

How can the governments of these countries and their people help ease their regional neighbours’ problems, including poverty and social issues?

Can social, cultural and sporting events play a part in improving ties and create an atmosphere of regional co-operation?

Comments (12) Closed

andy (ON, Canada) Dec 08, 2012 05:54pm
Dude, it is called daydreaming! pak should concentrate on its own problems, rather than playing a leader of these tiny countries. India surely can survive without SAARC.
andy (ON, Canada) Dec 08, 2012 05:56pm
and I assure you, India doesn't need SAARC to influence the tiny neighboring countries!
j.k Dec 08, 2012 12:09pm
without regional cooperation no country achieve its prosperity and the slogan of that thing must be denounce that "India is our enemy" we must get out from this slandering behavior for our own good and i have many reservation of current govt role for development in country's future and stability i like their slogan "you can change your friends but you can not change your neighbors" so we can not get prosperity, stability and trade oriented goals without being alienated from our neighbors. so we must promote SAARC forum for our own prosperity and development without thinking that which country is getting more interest in it
Ishfaq kanipori Dec 08, 2012 04:11am
India has a crucial role to play,it should come forward and must be ready to discontinue its traditional approach.Pak must be governed by a civilian government.Its intellegence agencies must come under the controle of civilian govt.there should be the least interferance of usa and other european states
Farooq Ali Dec 08, 2012 04:47am
Saarc is an exercise in futility as the people of member countries are not getting any benefit out of this cooperation. We feel more free and friendly and get easy visa while in Malayesia and Thailand or Turkey rather than India or Bangladesh though these are out of saarc membership but are loving to Pakistanis ,
AMJAD ALI Dec 08, 2012 11:11am
organization can play a pivotal role in establishing peace, trade , economic development and fraternity among neighbouring countries if it works on a organized plan instead of talking about things and doing nothing tangible.the organization should set a long lasting pln to work on and hopefully after a period of time , results would be fruitful..
Arbab Zahid Dec 07, 2012 09:34pm
Apprehensions and cooperation can not go hand by hand. Pakistan fears that India being a rapidly developing giant with its enormous geographical, political, military and economic potential, could use the forum to further its hegemonic designs. On other hand India, tangled in disputes with almost all of its neighbouring SAARC countries, is affraid that rest of countries might team up against its interests. Pakistan should endeavour using its diplomatic channels to establish a new forum of the South Asian countries, excluding India and promote trade relations with them. Success of that new forum would eventually compel India to join hands with the member countries on equal footings. Thats the only solution to revive SAARC with a new name.
Marina Dec 10, 2012 02:22pm
China is not a SAARC member.
Mukesh Dec 07, 2012 02:11pm
I think that it was a total waste of time and money - I can't recall any of its tangable achivements
Vedic Dec 10, 2012 03:58am
I wonder why India even need to participate in such meeting. SAARC is worthless, simply send a junior secretory to represent
IS Dec 10, 2012 09:12am
There is no future for SAARC. It has been used as a forum for bilateral issues rather than collective issues. How many countries have implemented free trade among themselves? Pakistan is yet to resolve MFN issues. Few SAARC members want to work with the forum on their terms. China has a dispute where ever there is shared border or shared sea, so who cares if members have dispute among themselves.
raika45 Dec 07, 2012 01:30pm
The most important thing for a group to work is that there must be peace and understanding among themselves.You do not have that.You must have a common goal in terms of trade and ideology.You must respect the borders of your fellow nation [like Kashmir in India and parts of Pakistan] You must have free flow of ideas to move forward in the economic field.Most important you MUST treat your fellow members as friends.Not bring your racial or religious factors to the forefront. Can you SAARC members do that? I doubt it.So you "spin" around with your talks which will produce nothing buy hot air.