Making SAARC summit meaningful
Friday, 01 August 2008

Against the backdrop of incomplete summits long on promises but short in results, we place our faith in Dhaka’s official assessment that this time the summit was productive and business-oriented. India’s decision to dismantle all trade barriers for all its SAARC partners looks a good beginning and indicates change of mind in the Indian establishment. Given the necessary goodwill it will be possible to build on this major breakthrough. The decision to ensure food security is a welcome sign. With its more than one and a half billion people SAARC is the world’s most densely populated region. But these people are mostly poor, suffer from malnutrition and various diseases. The midwives of SAARC had dreamt of improving the lost of these millions through fruitful cooperation in all fields. But they failed to chart a roadmap for removing the deep suspicion and distrust that still remains the hallmark of the region. At the root of this is possibly the religious diversity and the resulting religious competition. Religious diversity also makes the region unique. With Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians making up bulk of the region’s population it was not unexpected that there would be rivalries. We are convinced that if things were different or the political leaderships could rise above these sentiments the Association could have achieved a lot and could even be on the threshold of a union in the line of ASEAN if not the European Union. If these mental barriers could be overcome proposals like single currency, visa-free travel or regional power grid etc could become  realities..

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