Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Commentary: why SAARC 2016 is not happening

The SAARC logo
Although the track record of SAARC is rather dubious, this South Asian Group of nations is more about what may lie on the horizon as a hope for the subcontinent rather than solid achievements on the ground. It seems that most of the quarrels within the SAARC nations are outcomes of great intimacies that are near impossible to disentangle rather than distance or lack of incentives to connect. This is why nearly all the member nations, depending on the specific situations go through phases of gushing love and scorching hate. Among us all, it is strikingly only Bhutan, the smallest country that does not suffer from insobriety or imbalance of emotions. Also, clearly, it is Pakistan that rouses the strongest emotions most frequently and for good reasons too. It also represents in more ways than one the most glaring problems of the subcontinent with an intensity that can be extremely annoying. The reason may be that Pakistan has thus far failed to find sufficient legitimacy for its existence within its own self and needs constant bolsters from its political hostility towards India. SAARC is thus largely like a typical extended family from the subcontinent that has been through several rounds of severing without snipping its placental connections. This is a relationship of hostile dependence.

No wonder, as the SAARC 2016 summit dates approach, the Indian government has decided to stay away and has most likely been responsible for convincing Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan to follow suit. It is difficult to assess the wisdom behind the measure at this point since post-Uri attack, India is taking a series of measures to nettle and corner Pakistan with Pakistan actively retaliating in the most determined way. Even those who argue for moderation in matters related to Pakistan will have difficulty in finding fault with PM Narendra Modi’s decision to refuse Pakistan a place at the table so soon after the incidents at Pathankot and Uri where India lost a number of soldiers in surprise attacks by terrorists. This article provides a neat overview of the entire episode and also some idea of what may be brewing in the various national capitals at this very moment. 

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