The flop Saarc show

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The decision by the heads of Governments of India and a few other countries to boycott the upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit in Islamabad has reduced the event to a farce. The move is unprecedented as this will be the first time since Saarc’s inception in 1985, that India will not attend the meet. The blame for the fiasco lies entirely at Pakistan’s doorstep. Islamabad’s open support to militants that are based in Pakistan and conduct strikes in the neighbourhood, has angered South Asia.
The Ministry of External Affairs has conveyed to the current Saarc chair, Nepal, that “cross-border terrorist attacks by one country have created an environment not conducive to holding the Saarc summit in Islamabad”. Pakistan’s continued support to Islamic militants from its soil against India is disheartening. India’s persistent efforts to mount pressure on Pakistan across multilateral forums has exposed the latter’s double standards towards its neighbours. Sadly, Pakistan’s unwillingness to act on the terror elements indicates that it is hand-in-glove with them. Right from the 2008 Mumbai terror attack to the recent Uri assault, India has exposed how Pakistan-based terrorists were involved, but Islamabad refuses to acknowledge the fact, let alone act on it.
Pakistani commentators are now blaming New Delhi for having ‘scripted’ the boycott by other nations too. They are claiming that India has misled the global community and now even some Saarc nations, on
the issue.
The fact is that countries such as Bangladesh and Afghanistan have themselves experienced terrorism emanating from Pakistan. They don’t need to be instigated by India. It must also be remembered that both these nations had good relations with Islamabad, which later deteriorated because Pakistan used militants to cause damage and destruction there. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, for instance, began his tenure with a warm outreach to Pakistan, calling it a “brother”.
Pakistan appears determined to create problems for all those nations in the neighbourhood with whom New Delhi shares friendly ties. It is unclear how the situation arising out of the Saarc ‘boycott’ will unfold. Will the isolation lead to demands for Pakistan’s suspension from the regional grouping? Or will India and its friends in Saarc mull the idea of floating a new body to tap into the potential of regional integration? India has on more than one occasion in the past said that one country (Pakistan) had been holding up many promising initiatives put on the table for greater coordination among Saarc nations, whether it is in the area of trade and commerce or science and technology.
There is no doubt that Islamabad has been more of an obstructionist than an enabler. For instance, it orbited out of the Saarc satellite idea.
The satellite is to help Saarc members in various critical applications such as weather forecasting, but Pakistan smelled – as it always does on issues presented by India – a conspiracy.
It similarly threw a spanner in the works of a road connectivity proposal. Pakistan wanted some time to think the proposal over, but the reality is that it does not want projects floated by New Delhi to be a success. It shows how insecure Pakistan is in the region.

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