With the fate of the next SAARC summit hanging in balance, Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda today said the process of the regional grouping over the years has been “too slow” and the implementation of past deals were “very poor” as compared to other international organisations.
A host of speakers who spoke during a regional conference on the effectiveness of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) raised question whether the regional grouping has any relevance at the present geo-political scenario for convening the summit in Islamabad slated for November 9-10.
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The question is being raised at a time when the convening of the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad later this year has become uncertain with four countries of the eight member organisation, including India, has expressed their inability to attend the summit following the growing tension between India and Pakistan.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have increased after militants stormed an Indian Army base in Uri on September 18, killing 18 soldiers.
Besides India, three other SAARC members – Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan – have pulled out of the summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding of the meet.
Prachanda, in his inaugural address to the regional gathering, said that “the over all process of the SAARC over the last 30 years of its establishment have become too slow and the implementation of past agreements and commitments are very poor”.
“South Asia has vast opportunities and it is endowed with abundant natural and human resources, and we have expertise in many sector, but we are lagging behind in many fields as compared to other international organisations,” said the Prime Minister.
“It would be unfortunate if the forthcoming SAARC Summit is postponed, as reported in some news media,” said Sujata Koirala, former Foreign Prime Minister and senior leader of Nepali Congress.
“The SAARC Summit should neither be postponed, nor be cancelled,” as there is a need for all “SAARC member countries to come to a common platform and address the regional issues,” she pointed out.
Nepal has asked member countries to create conducive environment for convening the SAARC summit.
“At the time of terror attacks, the importance of convening of meetings of such a regional grouping has become even more pronounced,” she pointed out.
The representatives from Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are attending the two-day regional conference being organised by International Relations and Labour Committee of the Legislative Parliament of Nepal.
The participants at the conference are discussing various papers presented by experts on effectiveness of SAARC, overview of the three decades of SAARC process, strengthening institutional mechanism, deepening integration through enhanced connectivity and economic cooperation among the member states.