SAARC must overcome Internecine Distrust to Achieve Cohesion

Formed with a clear objective to catalyse economic growth in the region, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), is still struggling after nearly three decades of existence to cement trust among its eight member nations and evolve cohesive trade and other related policies.
The SAARC charter was signed in Dhaka in 1985, with a clear agenda to accelerate economic growth in the region and build mutual trust among member states, whose original seven members, comprising India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, and Pakistan, were joined by an eighth, Afghanistan, in 2007.


At its18th summit in Kathmandu, Nepal, last year there were few exceptional attempts to advance this stated priority of economic cooperation besides the three connectivity agreements on road, rail and energy.
Only one of these – on energy, was signed. The remaining two will be discussed again in three months, with Pakistan claiming it has not completed its “internal processes” to endorse them.

Jayshree Sengupta, currently a Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, was previously a consultant for World Bank in Washington D.C. and in OECD in Paris.