New Delhi, Sept 29: The 19th summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has been boycotted by India, along with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan over allegations of Pakistan’s covert support for terror. In the aftermath of Uri terror attack, the decision of not attending the SAARC was projected to be a stern and befitting decision taken by India. Subsequently, New Delhi’s natural ally Bhutan, along with two other victims of Pakistan-based terrorism – Kabul and Dhaka have decided to skip the summit, expressing solidarity with India and sending out a strong message to Islamabad over its use of non-state actors. However, this could only be considered as the nascent steps taken by India to diplomatically isolate Pakistan. It is far from being a diplomatic victory. Also Read - India's COVID Tally Surpasses 53 Lakh-mark, Deaths Stand at 85,619; 5 Worst-hit States Report High Level of Recoveries | Key Points
Amid all the cheers for the strong nationalistic government at Centre, strategic analysts failed to note that some member nations of SAARC have refrained from joining the New Delhi bandwagon. These nations include Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives. The three nations have been heavily invested by successive Indian governments. The relation which New Delhi enjoys with them has near about been hegemonic. However, their decision to defy the stand taken by India should come as a huge embarrassment to the Indian political establishment. It further validates their growing affinity towards China. Also Read - Schools Reopening From Monday | What Back to Classes Might Look Like Amid Pandemic
The boycott of SAARC and the strategy to diplomatically isolate Pakistan could had been termed a success only if the member nations of SAARC had dismissed the summit being hosted by Pakistan in wholesome manner. Instead, even a nation like Nepal which has economically survived over the years through a generous aid by India has decided to defy the stand taken by Narendra Modi government. (ALSO READ: SAARC Summit has to be postponed, says India after pull-out) Also Read - COVID-19: With Spike of Over 96,000 Cases, India's Tally Crosses 52-Lakh Mark, Deaths Near 85K
Any attempt of suspending SAARC would be adversely affecting not only India, but the entire conglomerate of South Asian nations. To use a page from the ideology of Sangh Parivaar, SAARC is the only forum which could bring all members of Akhand Bharat on one platform to tackle economic, social, security and strategic challenges. Forming another SAARC without Pakistan would be impractical in nature, as the Islamic Republic forms an influential nation who could not be simply ignored. It would further escalate tensions in the region.
“SAARC, ailing since birth, is now on deathbed. And many are rejoicing. Meanwhile Shanghai Coop Org (SCO) is making big strides. It is time to introspect,” said Sudheendra Kulkarni, peace activist and former aide of ex-PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Important to note is that the strings of SCO are being held by China. The summit is gaining immense amount of success, as compared to SAARC, where India was supposed to play the leading role.
SAARC, founded in 1985 for development and advancement of the geopolitical region of South Asia, has performed in an embarrassing manner. Although, this region of the world holds 1/5th of the world population, along with 2/5th of the world’s poor, the intertrade has remained pathetically low. The biggest nation within the conglomerate, India, has only seven percent of its international trade with the member nations of SAARC. The conglomeration, which had the capacity to be as strengthful as the European Union, remained largely unsuccessful due to the bilateral friction between India and Pakistan.