SOUTH Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) observed its 35th Charter Day on Saturday. It was on 8th December 1985 that the Charter establishing the organization was signed by the SAARC Heads of State or Government during their first ever summit meeting in Dhaka.
Expectations were high when the SAARC was formed with the aim to promoting the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life through regional cooperation in mutually agreed areas. However, just a cursory look at the previous years is sufficient to indicate that the forum completely failed to deliver on its core objectives. Despite endowed with immense resources both natural and human, the peoples of this region continues to face with plethora of problems including backwardness, poverty, illiteracy, disease etc. Despite promulgation of SAFTA, the regional countries have not been able to increase trade amongst the member states. There may be many reasons for its implacable failures but the first and foremost amongst them is the hegemonic and intransigent attitude of India. The postponement of Islamabad SAARC summit 2016 through Indian machinations is a classic example of how SAARC has paid the price for Indian ambitions. The tension between Pakistan and India has caused great damage to the organization often stunting its growth and development. It is because of Indian anti-Pakistan posture that the SAARC summit has not been held despite the passage of over three years. It would not be wrong to state that New Delhi has made the organization hostage. Nonetheless, a positive development has taken place this year on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly when the ministerial level meeting of the SAARC countries, except India, agreed to hold the summit in Islamabad. It is now for our Foreign Office to expedite the process of holding this important conference at the earliest in order to move forward on the path of exploiting the region’s true potential in different sectors. We have no doubt in saying that India will once again try to scuttle this process but other member countries must show the commitment they showed at the ministerial level meeting in New York and go ahead with the summit level meeting. It is only through greater engagements especially at the top level that this platform can turn the hopes and dreams of the peoples of this region for peace, progress and development into a reality. To make it fully vibrant and viable organization, expansion of SAARC has also become a must. China which shares borders with five of the eight South Asian countries qualifies to be full member of SAARC. Indian opposition to China’s entry is totally uncalled for and has no basis. India should rather reciprocate the Chinese gesture which supported its entry into SCO. Given its economic successes, China’s entry as a full member will prove to be an asset for the regional platform.