Topics: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, South Asia, Asia Pages: 17 (5244 words) Published: February 18, 2013
SAARC: Origin, Growth, Potential and Achievements
Muhammad Jamshed Iqbal∗ Introduction
The world today is at a turning point. The changes that we are undergoing are global in scope, revolutionary, fundamental and structural in content. As we have entered the 21st century a sense of optimism prevails for attaining peace and prosperity through effective role-play of regional as well as global organizations. Many view Asia as having a variety of characteristics in common with Europe of the nineteenth century: underdeveloped international institutions, mixed domestic orders, rising nationalism, high but differential growth rates, and bitter, emotional rivalries between insecure neighbours. The success of states in today’s world is not so much measured in terms of capacity for defending borders or creating uniquely national institutions, but in terms of ability to adapt to regional and global trends, promote exports, attract investments, and skilled labour, provide a beneficial environment for transnational companies, build attractive institutions of research and higher learning, wield political influence on the regional and global scene, and also brand the nation culturally in the international market-place.1 Consequently, regional associations are fast becoming an important and effective new scene for political and economic interaction in the world. In this new environment the importance of regional community and functional groupings has been heightened. Regional, political and religious

∗ 1

Govt. Post-Graduate College, Asghar Mall, Rawalpindi. Stein Tonnesson, “Globalising National States”, Nations and Nationalism, No.10, 2004, p.180.


Pakistan Journal of History & Culture, Vol.XXVII/2 (2006)

blocs of nations now provide platforms for a number of countries to exercise influence in global affairs. Interest in greater regional economic integration, fuelled partly by the achievement of an economic union and a single currency in Europe, has grown in different parts of the world. This includes South Asia and the regional organization known as South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which has announced the goal of attaining an economic union and expressed the desire for a common currency. SAARC is a fairly recent association, established in 1985 by the seven member states of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. These seven countries differ greatly in land area, GDP, and population, although they have similar levels of human and economic development. They also share the unusual feature of having a common border with one another member country. The objective of this paper is to present some preliminary information relevant to the pattern and process of regional economic integration in the member states under SAARC in the region. Today world is divided into two major categories. The states whose influence goes beyond a particular region — the world powers — and those whose influence is confined to a particular region — the regional powers.

Globalism is defined as a borderless world programme that implies a tendency towards a global social system. Its historical origins reached a new stage in the post-Second World War era since the sense of geographical distance has dramatically changed; some even speak of “the end of geography”. The world is now considered as one global village. Globalization is a new phenomenon. There is an intricate relationship between regionalization and globalization. Compared to regionalism with an impressive theoretical tradition behind it, globalism is a more recent concept in social sciences. Whether its consequences are seen as catastrophic or as the ultimate unification of the world, the concept of globalisation is often used in a rather loose and ideological sense. However, there are also many definitions of regionalism. For the critics, the regionalist trend constitutes a threat to the multilateral...
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