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Wary SAARC nations meet; is a tango on the way?
PARUL ABROL | Issue Dated: April 22, 2007
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SHALL WE DANCE? A clenched fist, it is said, packs a greater punch and to achieve this, all the fingers must be brought together. The South Asian countries don’t seem to have realised yet the importance of coming close. That is what was seen at the 14th SAARC summit in New Delhi (3-4 April). There is plenty of insecurity and mistrust among the South Asian partners. The disparity in development standards is glaring in SAARC countries. A forum like this can do wonders for mutual growth, development, trade and in essaying regional rights on important international issues.

The irony is that South Asian nations haven’t understood the importance of regional cooperation. The summit saw Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan lobbying hard to have China on board as a permanent member of the SAARC. If China is unanimously accepted as one, then it could lead to enhanced economic development. Periodically, comparisons have been drawn to other successful regional bodies in the world like the European Union and ASEAN.

Former Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh said the trick is to understand the importance of regional cooperation.  In Europe, there were major powers like Germany and France which had been off and on at war for over seven decades, but for the larger goal of European cohesion, they sacrificed personal agendas. The integration of the economically weaker eastern European countries like Poland and breakaway republics of the erstwhile Soviet Union like Ukraine displayed the consolidation of entities in Europe. In a short time, the euro has outperformed the dollar and in this, there is a lesson for the SAARC countries. SAARCY?!?

SAARC nations still don't have enough trust among them

EU is an example of how things can be made to work

Will China become a member?

Which way will SAARC go?

On the other hand, the member countries of SAARC are more prone to bilateral, multilateral and internal tensions, as they are unable to resolve problems dispassionately. However, as Mansingh said, “this is a landmark summit, as the headlines pertaining to the summit which appeared in the media referred to the major negotiations during the summit. This was unlike the previous occasions, when events other than the SAARC summit cornered the coverage”. Going by past record, we should be looking forward to better regional relations.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017