Postponement of Saarc Summit


Opportunity for engagement of leaders should not be lost

The 19th Saarc Summit has been postponed, and we have not heard of a new date as yet. It is obvious that, the Islamabad Summit would have been only the nineteenth in the thirty one-years of its existence, the heads of government or state, of the member  countries, have not been able to meet annually as envisaged in the Saarc Charter, for some reason or the other.

The postponement has come in view of India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan initially deciding to abstain from the meeting. India’s decision has been compelled by the attack on Uri while Bangladesh has taken umbrage at Pakistan’s blatant interference in its internal affairs related to the trial and punishment of the war criminals. Pakistan’s alleged role in Afghanistan has caused it to take the decision that it has.

It is true that Pakistan’s stand on various issues has generated tensions and instability in the region. And perhaps Pakistan deserves more than a rap in the knuckles for it. And the Saarc Summit would have offered the appropriate forum to confront Pakistan. Although one might argue that the respective issue the three countries have put up as the reason for the boycott falls with the realm of the bilateral, one could also counterpose the argument that extremism and terrorism that Pakistan is accused of fomenting are no longer bilateral issues and ought to feature in the Summit agenda.

However, we feel talking to each other is better than talking at each other and for that the Summit is indispensable. Moreover, the boycott may create a precedent that may be replicated on flimsy grounds. We need more of Saarc not less of it. Notwithstanding its flaws we cannot let Saarc die.

Source; the daily star


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