To Progress, SAARC Must Emerge as a Vibrant Economic Union

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The forthcoming 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit, being held in the Himalayan city of Kathmandu in November this year, has every reason and opportunity to touch a new high. Of course, behind every opportunity lurks a challenge. Will the SAARC finally break through the rhetoric of declarations and pave the way for some concrete action?
The purported theme, “Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity” which will no doubt be embedded in yet another declaration, provides a great opportunity to leaders of the eight member-nations, namely, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan, Afghanistan and the host country Nepal. “Deeper integration” of the region is the lurking challenge. Is the SAARC, which came into being in 1985, mature enough to play the role of an European Union (EU) of the region? That’s the question!

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