Question mark over Saarc summit again


New Delhi, Sept 23 (TNS): Question mark over Saarc summit again as for the second year in a row, there may be no Saarc summit, Indian media reported on Saturday. India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan had pulled out of the 2016 Saarc summit.

Islamabad was supposed to host the 2016 summit, which had to be cancelled. This year too, there appears to be no move to hold the summit. Saarc summits are generally held in November.

As Indian minister Sushma Swaraj met Saarc foreign ministers in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, India’s disinterest in the summit was evident, which has resulted in a downgrading of the institution where India plays the lead role.

With India-Pakistan bilateral relations in free-fall, it has had an impact on the South Asian body.

Swaraj did not refer to the uncertainties of the Saarc summit. “Regional prosperity, connectivity and cooperation can take place only in an atmosphere of peace and security. It, however, remains at serious risk in the region… It is necessary for our region’s survival that we eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms, without any discrimination, and end the ecosystem of its support,” she said.

Swaraj added that Saarc had failed to live up to its objectives, without a free trade system in place, or any agreement on trade in services etc, which actually makes South Asia one of the least connected regions in the world.

She listed the projects undertaken by India under the Saarc rubric. She said, “The South Asia Satellite, a first-of-its- kind initiative, was launched in May 2017. The project will touch the lives of the people in the region through its wide-ranging applications.”