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Undermining the SAARC

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua while reiterating Pakistan’s desire to strengthen ties with all its neighbours has said that Islamabad would continue with its efforts for peace in its neighbourhood despite New Delhi’s negative attitude. Addressing a conference on “Conflict and Cooperation in South Asia: Role of Major Powers” hosted by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), Janjua said, “We are convinced that we will continue to try for peace and stability in the region”. Referring to India’s hostile behaviour she said that New Delhi was spinning hatred and perpetuating dynamic rivalry.
This, she maintained, was not only unhelpful for improving Pakistan-India ties, but was also stopping South Asia from making progress and attaining peace. The Foreign Secretary recalled that India, by refusing to attend SAARC summit in Islamabad, was holding the regional body’s summit process hostage.
So far as the role of SAARC in South Asia is concerned, Ms Janjua had rightly said that the India is a game spoiler that has been creating hurdles. The establishment of this organization way back in 1985 had generated a wave of optimism all across the South Asian region. It was expected that like European Union, SAARC will play an important role in fostering better relations between the member countries besides narrowing down differences between the two major players (India and Pakistan) who have been locked in age-old rivalry. Unfortunately, the world’s biggest organization (in terms of population size) has miserably failed to achieve its goals…. Although its charter ruled out bilateral and contentious issues from its agenda as a protective clause but despite all that it fell victim of this perennial rivalry that refuses to die down. There is no denying the fact that trust deficit between India-Pakistan is the major hurdles in the way of cooperation among SAARC states. But the basic reason of SAARC failure is the fear of India’s hegemonic designs and its desire to become a leader of the region to attain economic and strategic goals. The kind of a role India has been playing have caused concerns among the member countries. Not only Pakistan other member states of the SAARC like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have felt and voiced concerns over India’s role and its designs. On the other hand India has been using its influence on SAARC members to settle scores against Pakistan. In 2016 India refused to take part in the regional group’s 19th conference that was scheduled to be held in Islamabad. The Indian denial, resultantly, led to an indefinite postponement of the summit. So the time has come that India must stop sabotaging SAARC and undermining the spirit of the organization by spinning hatred and perpetuating dynamic rivalry. In order to keep the wheel of regional integration moving on to address the problems faced by the teeming millions in South Asia, there is a dire need that India should revisit its wisdom towards SAARC and stop promoting and portraying its self as a big brother. Rather behaving like hegemon India should realize the ground realities and play its role as an equal partner for the stability and socio-economic development of the region.

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