Letter to the editor: SAARC-The 19th Summit

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I would like to express my deep concern regarding SAARC Summit through the medium of your esteemed daily newspaper. SAARC-South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation- is an organization of Eight Countries  including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Afghanistan who joined  the organization  in 2007 having permanent  Head Quarter at Kathmandu, Nepal and established on 8 December, 1985. The countries agreed to cooperate in the areas of Agriculture, Social development, Education and Culture, Biotechnology, Economic, trade and finance ,Ecology, Science and technology, Information, Communication and Media, Poverty alleviation, Security aspects, People to people contact, Funding mechanism etc.

The 19th summit of SAARC is to be held next week in Islamabad. The summit was not initially scheduled for January—it was supposed to be held in November of 2016, but was postponed due to  attack on Indian Army Camp  on18 September 2016 in Uri, Kashmir, where India found Pakistan involvement in the attack and latter Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh  also pulled out of the Summit meeting in  Islamabad. This is now the second attempt of the member countries to hold SAARC—this time, with Pakistan reiterating its invitation and I think that New Delhi can join the SAARC  Summit  virtually if it does not want to be present physically. Considering that SAARC only consists of 8 member countries, I think the Summit would essentially be fruitless if any of its major and most populated members were not present. Moreover, this invitation has been extended to all countries.

The presence of all members is of particular significance this year due to the important agenda items of relevance including a number of geopolitical developments having occurred in the region that impact all surrounding countries. It would be in the interest of all countries in the region to engage in these issues and even if they disagree—negotiate and indulge in dialogue. There are existential threats facing the region—ISIS, for example, has reared its ugly head, new threat of virus and others so many international issues are confronting the member nations. The brunt of climate change is estimated to be quite harsh on the South Asian region due to its coastal vulnerability. Perhaps, most notable of all, Afghanistan once again after twenty years, sees the rule of the Taliban, and this enormous political development has serious consequences on the monetary, financial, political and security conditions of all member countries. India has played an integral part in SAARC. I view it as an important organization for enhancing regional cooperation that should not be set aside for selfish deviant motives by countries. Last but not least, I hope that India will also pay heed to the greater good and security of the region and attend the conference.
Mool Raj
R /O Village Bhagota
Distt and Teh Doda.

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