Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Impediments to the Success of SAARC

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Impediments to the Success of SAARC

Article excerpt


A number of queries will be raised in this research paper, regarding the mechanism and utility of international regional organizations. We will address ourselves, trying to look for a clue that why Pakistan joined these organizations; both security related and groupings with economic preferences. We would investigate the rationale for Pakistani membership as well as the diminishing results of these regional groupings. In the era of Cold War, i.e. 1950s to 1970s, the focal point of Pakistan's foreign policy remained in cooperation with the regional countries for the uplift of its security needs; not withstanding that Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) were American sponsored. However, we cannot ignore the fact that co-members like Iran and Turkey were Pakistan's closest allies; regardless of the fact that these three countries coordinated their policies within the grand design of American containment of the communist ideology.

We would look into those factors; responsible for the slackness of RCD and its forerunner ECO, when its nomenclature was changed in 1980s. Pakistan experimented with yet another regional organization in South Asian region, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), mainly at the behest of then Bangladesh President General Zia urRehman; who felt that Indian dominance could only be dampened if the smaller countries of the region grouped together to coordinate their economic relations. However, India also joined this organization reluctantly.

There are examples of regional trading blocs,scattered around the globe, which have developed into more comprehensive legal and economic unions. Technical advancement of the latter half of the twentieth century has reduced the distances and facilitated swift and reliable transportation of profitable trading goods.

South Asia is one of the poorest regions in the world. It is densely populated but comparatively scarcely educated territory. People of this area have many historical commonalities as well as differences. The people, of this resourceful but mismanaged and ill maintained area, had realized that salvation lies in acceptable mutual cooperation and dependable mutual assistance.

The primary focus of this research will be on the establishment, aims, objectives and weaknesses of SAARC. It was established almost thirty years ago with intensions to boost mutual reliance and cooperation. This paper is an attempt to evaluate the primary causes of non-cooperation between the major SAARC members: as well as all other members. Along with that, the potentials and prospects of promoting cooperation, between the members, will also be highlighted.

According to Dr. Kheffens(1988), "A regional arrangement is a voluntary association of sovereign states within a certain area or having common interest in that area for a joint purpose which should not be of an offensive nature in relation to that area". Keeping in mind such principles, one needs to identify the place, role and significance of regional organizations in the international setup. Willy Brandt (2001), the famous German Chancellor, had said that an appreciable economic world order could be facilitated and ensured through regional organizations; which help countries harmonize their interests more efficiently.

Establishment of SAARC

SAARC was not established overnight. It took almost five years from the first floating of an idea of such an organization in 1980 by Zia-ur-Rehman; the then President of Bangladesh. Preparatory meetings were held before the first Summit in Dhaka in 1985. In May 1980, the formal letter was sent to all the South Asian countries in which the formation of a regional group (SAARC) was proposed. On 25 November 1980, a document by the name of "Bangladesh Working Paper" was sent to all countries of the region. The Foreign Secretaries met in 1981 in Colombo Sri-Lanka and Foreign Ministers met in 1983 in New Delhi and identified areas of regional cooperation. …

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