Let SAARC be the binding force
Nepal, which is holding on to the Chairmanship of the SAARC grouping since 2014 announced on Friday that it is ready and eager to handover the position to Pakistan, hoping that New Delhi and Islamabad can sort out their differences through negotiations, keeping in mind the challenges facing the region.
The SAARC nations are not meeting since 2016 when the last summit was held in Kathmandu and the next meet was planned in 2018 in Islamabad.
But after a militant attack on an Army camp in Uri in north Kashmir on September 18 that year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to arising situation post the attack.
The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet.
Ironically, SAARC has not lived upto the level for which the group was formed. The countries whci could have played a part in making it a vibrant platform to discuss and sort out problems faced by the entire south Asian region have been at logger heads for one or the other reason.
The situation has turned so hostile that no SAARC summit has been held for the last four years now. Though this platform could have provided ample space for the two nations India and Pakistan to sort out their differences through negotiations, but nothing of that sort has happened.
In the last three years, India has been distancing itself from the SAARC, citing security challenge facing the region from terror networks based in Pakistan, which is also a member of the grouping.
Now that a small country like Nepal has proposed a meeting of all SAARC heads so that they can have discussions amongst themselves on the challenges facing the region, it needs to be welcomed.
The Sambaad (dialogue) is named after the world’s tallest mountain Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) which is also a symbol of friendship. The invitation has been offered to PM Modi and Imran Khan as well.
Since the two major countries in the SAARC India and Pakistan have been facing a turbulent relationship, a meeting in Kathmandu can help break the ice provided the two heads of the nations are willing to break the jinx.
SAARC summits are usually held biennially and hosted by member states in alphabetical order. The member state hosting the summit assumes the Chair of the Association.
On December 8, 1985 at the first SAARC Summit in Dhaka, the leaders of the seven South Asian states – the Maldives, India, Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – signed a charter to establish the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Afghanistan became the eight SAARC member in 2007.