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Saarc forum needs to be revived

Saarc forum needs to be revived

Economic integration in the Saarc region is a dream but is destined to become a reality anytime in the future. India has already enhanced its area of influence in various countries of the region, ignoring the most important country of the Saarc region, Pakistan. Without understanding the importance of international obligations and bitter realities of the region, India has signed agreements of close cooperation with Bangladesh and Maldives and offered many opportunities and concessions to Nepal and Sri Lanka to find markets for its products. It has recently signed an agreement with Iran to get access to Afghanistan and central Asian states bypassing Pakistan. India is trying to realize the dream of economic stability and regional cooperation without the participation of Pakistan and without empathizing its consequences. No country can downplay the importance of Pakistan as international player and regional power. The geographical location of Pakistan makes it the hub of international business and trade as well as a transit point for the transportation of goods to China and beyond.

Pakistan is ready to host a meeting of the Saarc finance ministers in July to discuss ways and means to enhance economic cooperation and ensure facilities for intra-regional movement of cargoes among the Saarc members. Trade and not politics is the main concern of the contemporary world and every country is trying to change the lot of its people. A country cannot dream economic prosperity and financial autonomy in isolation and cannot go all alone to develop infrastructure without cooperation with regional countries. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor is the best example of close cooperation between the countries in the region. New Delhi is facing connectivity problem through land route and it has to accept the hand of friendship from Islamabad to get access not only to Afghanistan but also China and other countries in the region, including Iran. The world has realized the importance of regional trade and Pakistan is also ready to allow Indian goods to market in Pakistan.

Fortunately, democratic rules are in place in all countries in the region and it is hoped that common sense will prevail and all the outstanding issues will be resolved. The countries need political will and commitment. The Saarc member states should have to work as partners and not as rivals for economic wellbeing of millions of people living below the poverty in this region. Saarc is an important forum and it needs to be revived and it should not be made hostage to conflicting views between the two countries.