Impact Of Indo-Pak Rivalry In SAARC : Latitude

Even though a SAARC Summit is held every 18 months and is expected to be attended by the heads of state member nations, these 8 members South Asian grouping has made little progress in the 30 years since creation. A major reason is that much of the media attention during SAARC summit is hogged by the meeting of politicians from India and Pakistan even though bilateral issues are to be kept out this forum. But expectations are raised on high that it could be the scene of breakthrough in strained bilateral ties. More so now, the Pakistan is so keen that the full process of bilateral talks with India is resumed. This despite the fact that Pakistan is not doing enough to address India’s concerns on Pak sponsored terror. Pakistan is also adamant that Kashmir issue must dominate its bilateral talks with India. The jockeying for the diplomatic one-upmanship has allowed little progress in the region which includes Afghanistan and Pakistan in the west, Nepal and Bhutan in India’s north, Bangladesh in the east, and Sri Lanka and Maldives in the south, with all nations except the Afghanistan sharing connectivity with India. India significantly constitutes 70% or more of SAARC’s area and population. Its trade within SAARC countries though is mere $17 billion as compared to India’s overall trade figures of $800 billion. And the inability of other member states to rival India’s economic and political influence has caused asymmetry which critics say greatly hampers the development of SAARC. And its vast potential has so far gone untapped largely failing due to suspicion. And now China waiting in the wings to enter the SAARC, with the encouragement of Pakistan and some others, this regional body could become another platform for shadow boxing between India and China, and only add towards a trust deficit.

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