What is SAARC?
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is abbreviated as SAARC.
Headquarters: Kathmandu, Nepal. The SAARC was established with the signing of a charter adopted by SAARC members in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 8. The member states of SAARC members are eight in numbers Afghanistan 🇦🇫, Bangladesh 🇧🇩, Bhutan 🇧🇹, India 🇮🇳, Maldives 🇲🇻, Nepal 🇳🇵, Pakistan 🇵🇰 and Sri Lanka 🇱🇰.
All these countries lie in the Indian subcontinent. The first-ever meeting of SAARC called Summit was held in Dhaka on 7-8 December 1985.
- Afghanistan 🇦🇫
- Bangladesh 🇧🇩
- Bhutan 🇧🇹
- India 🇮🇳
- The Maldives 🇲🇻
- Nepal 🇳🇵
- Pakistan 🇵🇰
- Sri Lanka 🇱🇰
- Australia 🇦🇺
- China 🇨🇳
- European Union 🇪🇺
- Iran 🇮🇷
- Japan 🇯🇵
- Mauritius 🇲🇺
- Myanmar 🇲🇲
- South Korea 🇰🇷
- United States of America 🇺🇸
Objectives of SAARC
- To promote the welfare of people of the member states.
- Improve quality of life, understanding each others problems, social progress, promote mutual trust.
- Mutual understanding & promoting economic, cultural, technical and scientific fields , strengthening cooperation in regional & international platforms.
Committees In SAARC
There are numerous committees in which have different functions, they are formed by member nations
① Standing Committee
② Programming Committee
③ Action Committee
④ Technical Committee
Areas of Co-Operations
- Human Resource Development & Tourism.
- Agriculture & Rural Development.
- Environment Natural disaster & biotechnology.
- Economic Trade & finance
- Social Affairs
- Education, Security & culture
- Energy, Transport, Science & Technology
- Information and Poverty Alleviation.
18 SAARC summit was held in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2014, 19 SAARC summit was scheduled to host in Pakistan in Islamabad 2016, but In 2016 due to the Uri attack, India canceled participating in the start meeting in Pakistan because the attack was done with Pakistan’s.
Following India other members excluding Nepal canceled participation. Nepal remained the only nation that has not pulled out participation because Chairperson was from Nepal.
SAARC summit Host Nation Year
|First Summit||Bangladesh 🇧🇩||1985|
|Second Summit||India 🇮🇳||1986|
|Third Summit||Nepal 🇳🇵||1987|
|Fourth Summit||Pakistan 🇵🇰||1988|
|Fifth Summit||The Maldives 🇲🇻||1990|
|Sixth Summit||Sri Lanka 🇱🇰||1991|
|Seventh Summit||Bangladesh 🇧🇩||1993|
|Eight Summit||India 🇮🇳||1995|
|Ninth Summit||The Maldives 🇲🇻||1997|
|Tenth Summit||Sri Lanka 🇱🇰||1998|
|Eleventh Summit||Nepal 🇳🇵||2002|
|Twelfth Summit||Pakistan 🇵🇰||2004|
|Thirteenth Summit||Bangladesh 🇧🇩||2005|
|Fourteenth Summit||India 🇮🇳||2007|
|Fifteenth Summit||Sri Lanka 🇱🇰||2008|
|Sixteenth Summit||Bhutan 🇧🇹||2010|
|Seventeenth Summit||The Maldives 🇲🇻||2011|
|Eighteenth Summit||Nepal 🇳🇵||2014|
|Nineteenth Summit||Pakistan 🇵🇰||2016|
SUMMITS IN INDIA
India has hosted SAARC summits three times in 1986,1995 and 2007.
SAARC current leaders
|Members||President of State||Prime Minister of State|
|Bangladesh||Abdul Hamid||Sheikh Hasina|
|Bhutan||King Jigme Khesar Namgyel|
|India||Ram Nath Kovind||Narendra Modi|
|Maldives||Ibrahim Mohamed Solih|
|Nepal||Bidhya Devi Bhandari||Sher Bahadur Deuba|
|Pakistan||Arif Alvi||Imran Khan|
|Sri Lanka||Gotabaya Rajapaksa||Mahinda Rajapaksa|
Possible Future Members
China is keen to become a permanent member of SAARC, Myanmar has interested to be a
part of this group. Russia has applied for observer status. South Africa and Turkey to wants to be a part of this.
SAARC During COVID-19
In March 2020, India stood as a leader & Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed the creation of a COVID-19 emergency fund on voluntary contributions from all the member states.
India making an initial offer of $10 million( US dollar). This fund was opened to all member nations for emergency use in controlling the virus.
GSAT-9, commonly known as the South Asia satellite, was launched on 5 May 2017. India initiated this for SAARC nations during the 18th Summit in Nepal, 2014, as a part of
the neighborhood first policy. Pakistan declined to participate due to security concerns.
Later it was changed to South Asia Satellite. Sri Lankan President said this technology will help in the upliftment of common people.
Challenges to SAARC nations
- Terrorism: SAARC as a group has massive growth opportunities but cross-border terrorism sponsored by Pakistan remains a big threat to the stability of the region and economic as well as social upliftment of the common people.
- Relations between India-Pakistan: both India & Pakistan has huge population. But due to the strained relation between both the nation, the goals are too far to achieve.
- After 2014, no proper meeting took place.Virtual summit in 2020 was the latest such engagement.
China aims to create an alternative regional bloc, the latest one is the establishment of China-South Asian countries poverty Alleviation & cooperative Development center in Chongqing city.
Five nations of SAARC have joined the Beijing-led group, leaving only India, Bhutan, and Maldives. Diplomats and security officials of Nepal say it is a minus India alliance because India is too suffering from poverty problems.
South Asia has been witnessing migration problems over the decades. There are 3 million refugees in South Asia. Pakistan sees refugees from Afghanistan, India is home to diverse groups of refugees. India and Bangladesh have Rohingya refugees problems from Myanmar.
Conclusion and Way Forward
SAARC has been 35+ years in operation but due to terrorism, migration, and lack of trust has been a major problem of concern in the region. SAARC nations have a lot of potentials that need to tackle.
Afghanistan has been creating news due to the Taliban invading nearly 80% to 85% of the land area of Afghanistan after the United States of America announcing to withdraw its troops from 1 May 2021.
The Afghan Taliban wants to destabilize the Ashraf Ghani government and take over Kabul has been a major cause of concern for Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and neighboring countries. This will lead to regional instability and the goals of SAARC will be too far to achieve in the upcoming time.
USA and India have a long time strategic planning and interests in Afghanistan so both of them can make a big change in Afghanistan along with the Afghanistan Government. If the instability continues in Afghanistan then regional infrastructure projects and prosperity of the common citizens in Afghanistan will deteriorate.
However, Afghanistan Government is in talks with the Taliban in Doha. Taliban has always been the reason for instability in Afghanistan.
So as far as the future of SAARC nations is concerned, all of them need to resolve trust issues especially Pakistan needs to take action against the terrorist organizations living in Pakistan & operating from time to time for the instability on the Indian soil.
The 21st century is the century of Asia, but without the prosperity of South Asia, this statement can’t be fulfilled.
SAARC needs connectivity to Central Asia with India, Bhutan, Bangladesh & Nepal through Pakistan. This will lead to an increase in trade, commerce, and business across South Asia and connectivity to the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and the Bay of Bengal to all nations including landlocked Afghanistan, Nepal, and Bhutan. However, this could only be achieved when stability and peace prevail in South Asia.
Official Website of SAARC is: https://www.saarc-sec.org/
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See Also – * New Education Policy 2020