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Will SAARC ever live to its ideal or it will remain a flogging horse

SAARC better known as South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation is described as an effort, an initiative, a step towards moving ahead with the belief, faith, zeal and zest of a prosperous global economy holding the hands of trust, cooperation and mutual understanding , but this effort seems to be falling in stake as it seems to be words penned down on paper or words spoken from mouth because the reality seems it to be a flogging horse meaning continuing a particular endeavour is a waste of time when the outcome is already decided. It is always said that dreaming big is good but dreaming too high is not at all good. The ideals of SAARC seem to take us to a world that every nation aims for but is it a reality or a dream. For me it is a mere dream because in reality SAARC promises the development of South East Asian countries, the welfare of the people, the promise of eliminating poverty but till date we are still hovering over the fact that whether we have achieved this or not.

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SAARC was founded in the year 1985. Ex President of Bangladesh Ziaur Rahman was the one who made a formal proposal on May 2nd, 1980. The first SAARC summit was held in Dhaka on 8 December 1985, when the organisation was first established. Till date we have seen altogether 18 SAARC summit. This summit includes all the South East Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Srilanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan is the recent inclusion in this list. Countries like Australia, China, The European Union, Iran, Japan, Myanmar, Mauritius, South Korea and United States act as observers to this summit.

SAARC was created to promote regional cooperation on an international basis but the present scenario is quite disturbing. Even after 25 years of the existence of SAARC, it has achieved little progress in the area of regional economic cooperation. The main reason being the huge upheaval between the two largest economies of the world that is India and Pakistan other small countries are becoming victims of this rhetoric. The best example is the recent "Uri" attack that has forced India to boycott the 19 Summit which was supposed to be held in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan on 9th and 10th November 2016 which was truly a need to combat terrorism. Not only India other four countries also decided to boycott the Summit showing unity in this effort. This decision was totally in the view of continuous cross border terrorism which created an environment not suitable for organising the Summit. These silent wars and continuous cross talks are not only affecting the nations as a whole but are also interrupting various international summits by affecting policy decisions for rapid economic cooperation.

We very well know that South East Asian countries are richly endowed with natural resources but utilisation of these resources in a proper planned manner is a must which can be maintained through various pacts and agreements. In order to reach the aspirations of the people globally and maintain the relevance of SAARC it is of utmost importance for nations to resolve their conflicts, maintain peace globally and India and Pakistan being the largest economies should provide additional market access to its partners, flourish trade, improve the exports and imports and India should remove all Non Tariff Barriers towards all other SAARC members and promote the idea of "Unity in Diversity". If the present scenario still continues then days are not far when SAARC will merely remain as a word with no existence in reality. In order to avoid the dooms day we should all join hands to make SAARC one of the idealistic summits in the history of South East Asia.

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- Satarupa Mukherjee