Postplatform : Expectations from the extravaganza


Sep 10, 2014-

All Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summits usually begin with a grand welcoming ceremony and end ideally with positive remarks and a lavish cherry on top party. And why should it not? The combined energy and charisma of the leaders of the Saarc member nations brought together during these summits are undoubtedly the most overwhelming get-together in the region. And everyone observing the events is easily swayed into the excitement of believing that nothing is impossible under such a dynamic combination.

What happens after the summit meeting until the next one is always a less exciting story though. However, we now have an opportunity to carefully observe our leaders; and this time around, question their combined abilities and achievements by looking beyond their zing during the Kathmandu Summit scheduled for November this year. The Kathmandu Summit will be the 18th Saarc summit meeting since 1985.

When the Saarc Charter was written 29 years ago, a set of ideal objectives were inserted into it. They include (a) Promoting the welfare of the people in South Asia and improving their quality of life (b) Accelerating economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region, and providing individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and realise their full potential (c) Promoting and strengthening collective self-reliance and a number of other forward-looking objectives. To meet these objectives, a combination of the council of ministers, standing committee, technical committee, action committee and secretariat was formed. Financial agreements and general provisions were also provided. We had a fully functional regional bloc by then. But something wasn’t working, this wasn’t enough to achieve our objectives!

The number of areas of cooperation were further increased each year, and Saarc included every little issue from poverty reduction to security aspects, from agricultural development to science and technology, from health and education to energy security, from social development to tourism, and so on, but there was something missing, this was still not enough!

Further problems were identified and characterised into parts, like global issues and their adverse effects on Saarc, non-cooperative issues between two or more member states within Saarc, and the problems that remained inside a member country and its spill over into Saarc. And though these problems were characterised, this was obviously still not enough!

Till today, the objectives set in the Charter 17 summits and 29 years ago are still far from being achieved wholly. So when Arjun B Thapa, Secretary General of Saarc, takes the podium during the summit in November this year, we expect him to be more than just an optimistic leader! We expect him to be honest, bold, firm and a little strict too. We expect this summit to cultivate professional and effective problem-solving mechanisms so that we don’t have to say “That is not enough” when we say we have Saarc.

Published: 11-09-2014 09:15

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