Member states blamed for Saarc's ineffectiveness
It is not only India's hegemony or "big brother attitude" but also limitations of other member states, which are to blame for Saarc's failure to emerge as an effective regional body even over 25 years after its inception, speakers said at a seminar yesterday.
They said the Indo-Pakistan conflict also stood in the way of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation's becoming successful. They however believe that the regional body could succeed if it collectively worked in a globalised context.
“Globalisation has given us new opportunities to rethink about Saarc and reorganise it," said international relations expert Prof Imtiaz Ahmed.
He said, "China is a common partner of all Saarc members with India being the big one. Economically China is already a South Asian country. So we can make Saarc+1 by including China as a full member to infuse cooperation among the member nations.”
The Association of South Asian Nations (Asean) has done it by including China, Japan and South Korea as full members, and brought a positive impact, he said. “Similarly China and Japan, who are now observers of Saarc, can be inducted into the forum.”
The seminar, "Why Saarc is less-effective? A neo-realist explanation of India's role in Saarc", was organised by Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA) in its auditorium in the capital.
BILIA research assistant Noor Mohammad Sarkar placed his research paper in the seminar, mainly bashing India for Saarc's less effectiveness in ensuring peace and development in South Asia compared to other regional organisations.
He said that as the key regional power, India had a bigger role, but it did not serve the role due to its neo-realist and hegemonic behaviour towards the smaller states.
Prof Imtiaz, former ambassador Afsarul Qader, and Jahangirnagar University teacher Dr Abul Kalam Azad differed with the statement and shed light on the constraints of other members.
Riaz Hamidullah, a director general of the foreign ministry and director at the Saarc Secretariat, laid stress on oneness of South Asia.