Saarc summit uncertain
The 18th Saarc summit scheduled for Kathmandu in May next year has become uncertain due to political turmoil in Nepal and the Maldives.
Nepal is yet to propose a date for the 18th summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) while it is to be the chair of Saarc after the Maldives that hosted the 17th summit in November last year.
During the summit in Maldives, Nepal had unofficially proposed hosting the 18th summit before May 2013. But the Himalayan nation could not advance for it, mainly because of its internal political crisis.
Diplomatic sources said Nepal's prospect for hosting the next summit became bleak as the Maldives postponed the inter-summit session of Saarc council of ministers scheduled for November this year.
The Maldives, the current Saarc chair, is also in serious political crisis following the alleged ouster of Mohamed Nasheed as president of the country in February last.
As per the Saarc Charter, there will be an inter-summit session of the council of ministers after six months of a summit to finalise the agendas, dates and venue for the next summit.
Syed Masud Mahmood Khandaker, director general (Saarc) at the foreign ministry, told The Daily Star that Nepal is due to host the 18th Saarc summit, but no date for the summit has been announced so far.
He apprehended that the postponement of the inter-summit session of the council of ministers may cause delay in hosting the next Saarc summit.
Masud indicated that the Saarc foreign ministers, who will meet informally on October 2 on the sidelines of the 67th UN General Assembly in New York, may discuss hosting the next summit.
Sources said Nepal is expected to convey its inability to convene the summit before May 2013 at the New York meeting.
Regarding Nepal's preparation for hosting the summit, sources at Kathmandu told The Daily Star that no homework was done since the 17th summit in the Maldives.
"It calls for huge preparations in terms of logistics like, repairing the International Convention Centre, arranging accommodations and security for guests. But no meeting on such preparatory works was held in Nepal in the last nine months," said an official source in Nepal.
Although, Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has called for fresh elections in November, they are unlikely to be held at that time as political parties in Nepal are divided over the timing of the elections.
The Asian News Network (ANN) on Monday reported that Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha also agreed that the political standoff has seriously hit preparations for the summit.
Saarc consists of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Maldives.