25 December 2014
Since its inception in 1985, the effectiveness of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to promote economic integration in South Asia has been questioned. One of the biggest impediments to SAARC’s progress has been the continued conflict between India and Pakistan.
There was hope that some positive results would come out of the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu on 26-27 November 2014, particularly because Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had repeatedly spoken of the need to reinvigorate relations with neighbouring countries.
There was good reason for the optimism. Modi’s first day in office after his election in May 2014 was dedicated exclusively to bilateral meetings with the leaders of the SAARC countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. His first state visit was to Bhutan and then to Nepal. During his visits abroad and even when engaging domestic audiences, Modi had stressed the need for increased regional cooperation. Nepal’s Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey had noted that the Kathmandu Summit was taking place in the changed context of India’s new Neighbours First policy. It was reported that Modi wanted to make South Asia a viable counterweight to China, which has made sweeping inroads in the region.
…Pradumna B. Rana is Associate Professor S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
CMS / GPO / Online
Last updated on 27/01/2016