President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said that there is no possibility of cooperation among SAARC member-states in an environment of terror. Mukherjee, in an interview to Nepal’s newspapers Kantipur and Kathmandu Post, said, “India continues to attach importance to cooperation within the framework of SAARC. However, no cooperation can take place in an environment of terror.” He is currently on a state visit to Nepal.
Asked why India seems to be giving greater priority to alternative regional forums like the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) over SAARC, he said “our interests lie in fast growth and development. We do not want to get bogged down by processes or formats.” “Also, we do not see any competition between cooperation under the rubric of different regional and sub-regional organisations,” he said.
The 19th SAARC Summit scheduled in Islamabad this month had to be cancelled after India and four more countries opted out, following an attack on an Army base in Uri in September by Pakistan-backed terrorists. On the new Constitution in Nepal, he stressed on the need to involve every section of the Nepalese society as “equal stakeholders” in the process of building democracy.
Replying to questions about India’s position on Madhesi protests that led to a blockade of border checkpoints and caused shortage of essential commodities in Nepal, he said that like any relationship of “this depth and intensity, there are times when we may have differing perceptions on certain aspects”. “But we do manage any such differences with sensitivity, goodwill and utmost understanding of each other’s vital interests. This has been the case throughout the history of India-Nepal relations.”