Your search keywords:

SAARC needs a revive-drive

SAARC needs a revive-drive
Recently, I got an opportunity to visit the US to participate in an international conference on franchise law. During the trip, an unexpected incident left a lasting impression on me. As I entered the seminar hall, a Pakistani lawyer attending the seminar rushed toward me, shouting “Aagaye Nepali” (the Nepali has come), recognizing my nationality through the traditional dhaka topi I was wearing. Soon after, an Indian lawyer approached us, informing me that the event manager was also a Nepali! This incident was an enlightening experience that made me contemplate the significance of regional cooperation. This encounter prompted me to reflect on the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the possibility of its revival. Why did King Birendra initiate this forum along with fellow leaders from the region? What compelled leaders from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India to associate themselves with SAARC? It is time to start the debate surrounding SAARC anew, not only among the leaders of member countries but also among the people, as we share strong people-to-people relations. In recent years, SAARC's progress has suffered, primarily due to the India-Pakistan dispute. Nepal’s initiative to include China in SAARC has also led to reduced engagement from India. Despite these setbacks, the people of SAARC member-states continue to recognize the importance of the regional forum. SAARC holds immense potential for problem-sharing, meeting common needs, fostering brotherhood and ensuring peace and security. Moreover, it can drive economic and infrastructural development among member-states.

Drawing inspiration from the European Union, India proposed a single currency for the SAARC region. Additionally, India envisioned a united force for regional security and defense, a common foreign policy, and passport facilities. However, smaller neighboring nations expressed doubts about the feasibility and long-term sustainability of such proposals. It is important to address these concerns and engage in meaningful discussions that consider the perspectives of all member-states. By doing so, SAARC can overcome the challenges that have hindered its progress.

SAARC’s original objectives were to overcome pervasive poverty, under-development, and job scarcity.  These objectives must be the focal point of any revival effort. Member-states should come together with renewed dedication, ensuring that SAARC strictly adheres to its original purpose. As Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal starts his visit to India from Wednesday, I urge the Nepali delegation to prioritize the functionality of SAARC during the prime minister-level discussion. I wish the Nepali side can actively work toward resolving the current stalemate. The revival of SAARC holds tremendous potential for the prosperity of South Asia. SAARC was established with good intentions, and its member-states must continue to work together with the same spirit. By embracing collaboration and refocusing on its original objectives, SAARC can become an effective platform for regional cooperation, enhancing the lives of millions across South Asia. By rekindling the spirit of SAARC, we can foster unity, understanding and progress among member-states. Let us seize this opportunity to build a brighter future for South Asia. And my Pakistani and Indian friends also have similar thoughts. The author is a member of the Supreme Court Bar and has been practicing corporate law for around three decades