THE two-day 16th summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) held in Bhutanese capital of Thimpu on April 28-29 concluded with a joint declaration expressing the resolve of their leaders to wage common struggle for economic development, improve their inter-connectivity, promote people to people contacts and evolve a joint strategy to tackle the issues of climate change, water and food shortages.
During the last quarter of the previous century international relations witnessed a strong surge towards regionalism. The underlying idea was to promote peace and economic progress through multilateral partnership of states in the region by pooling the available resources. Further impetus was provided by the emergence of new issues that threatened the fabric of international norms, such as terrorism, drug trafficking, extremism, and economic crisis. It was realised that these problems could not be solved at bilateral level and required joint efforts and close coordination. Accordingly regional groupings such as ECO, GCC, Asean and Saarc emerged.
Saarc came into being in December 1985, with the adoption of its charter in Dhaka. The objectives were to promote the welfare and improve the quality of life of the people of South Asia by accelerating economic growth in the region and building up mutual trust among the member states. The importance of Saarc as a regional organisation despite its rather unsatisfactory record, is recognised by all leaders. The feeling that peace and prosperity are indivisible and that the South Asia region has a common destiny and a shared struggle for a better and brighter future has emerged dominant theme.
The leaders who gathered in Thimpu made a frank appraisal and acknowledged that the organisation has failed to live up “to the hope and aspiration of 1/5th of humanity” represented by Saarc members. The Prime Minister of Bhutan also expressed the hope that Saarc will not turn into...