SAARC feels the heat of terrorism!

A regional grouping with potential that could never be exploited, SAARC has not delivered to its potential.

SAARC implodes


Treaties and protocols form a major tool for international engagement between power blocs. We find a full range of such treaties today covering trade, commerce, defence, cultural ties and military engagement. Regional politics has an important role to play in global political affairs. Decisions taken by any state of a region have an impact on the overall world political sentiment and stability.

As said, there are various regional inter-governmental cooperation associations across the world, just some of which include the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU),  the Caribbean Community (CariCom), the Arab League, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Union of South American Nations (USAN). All of them strive in multiple ways to maintain economic development, peace, stability and cooperation among the member nations of the respective regions.



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SAARC was founded in 1985 in Dhaka as a result of persistent initiative taken by Bangladesh President Ziaur Rahman (President 1977-1981) to foster peace, stability and economic development of South Asia. SAARC has eight south Asian nations as its members. They include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India and Pakistan are the two bigger member countries of SAARC.

Unfortunately, SAARC has faced many challenges due to continued political tension between its two biggest member states, India and Pakistan. Consequently, it has failed to achieve the objectives for which it was formed more than 30 years ago. Pakistan always feels that India dominates the association due to its size and plays a big brother role in the association, which it is not ready to accept. India, on the other hand, has repeatedly pointed out the cost it is having to pay due to terror infiltration from across the border. Pakistan denies it totally, and this has led to a near breakdown in relations.

The 19th SAARC Summit was scheduled to be held in Pakistan in November 2016. Due to the terrible terrorist attack on the Indian army’s base at Uri, India refused to participate in the summit. As per the SAARC Charter, the summit cannot be organized even if one of the member nations refuses to participate. Thus, the 19th SAARC summit stood cancelled. What is more important from India’s point of view is that three other member countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan have backed the Indian stand and decided to boycott the summit. Even the press release from the Nepal government, the current Chair of SAARC, urged that a more conducive regional environment be created to ensure the successful holding of the summit.

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As we can see, treaties and protocols require a certain understanding and smoothness of relations to work.

Ever since the Uri terrorist attack, India has been trying to diplomatically isolate Pakistan. The cancellation of the SAARC summit is a further successful step in this direction. Although, considering the economic and political relevance of SAARC, this step may not have an economic impact on Pakistan, but it is sure to have its regional political and moral impact.

[इस बोधि को हिंदी में पढ़ें, यहाँ]


Heart of Asia (Istanbul Process)


The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA) was founded on November 2nd, 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. It is a platform for sincere and results-oriented regional cooperation by placing Afghanistan at its center, as a secure and stable Afghanistan is vital to the prosperity of the Heart of Asia region. 14 member nations and 17 supporting nations cooperate to devise strategies to combat terrorism and narcotics trade, and ensure peace and prosperity. The Dec.2016 
Sixth Ministerial Conference, was held at  Amritsar, India. The M.C. concluded with the Amritsar Declaration with a resolve to combat terrorism and its sponsors.


Asia's geopolitics - from terror to OBOR


The entire set of geopolitical equations in Asia have undergone a rapid change. We capture the essence of a complex story below. Extremely useful for quick grasp over a huge topic!



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    •  America, China, Russia, Pakistan, Taliban, and India - a complex story 
      • Analysts feel that America had pushed a global consensus on terrorism after 9/11 (Twin Tower attack in 2001), but that is now fragmenting. In 2001, the UNSC Resolution 1371 declared a global consensus to fight these terror groups (Al-Qaeda, Taliban, allied groups). Slowly, over the years, the Taliban have wriggled free from many restrictions. Back then, even President Putin of Russia showed solidarity with the US, and ‘allowed’ them to open bases in central Asia, and enter Afghanistan in a full-fledged manner. Now that era of bonhomie is finished – Russia questions NATO, EU, and US itself. Its 'illegal' involvement – through cyber-attacks – in American Presidential elections 2016 is being questioned! Russia has changed in other ways too – closeness with China due to commodity trade, and growing ties with Pakistan (ostensibly under Chinese pressure). The regular meetings of Russia, China and Pakistan in Moscow regarding Afghanistan are designed to ensure closer talks between Kabul and Taliban. China needs stability as its ambitious One Belt One Road projects – put forward by China’s current leader Xi Jinping as a strategic outline to encourage new trade and connectivity throughout Asia with road and maritime links to Africa, the Middle East, and towards Europe! So, it wants Taliban to stay away from attacking it. U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2011 announcement, and action later, of drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan has changed the equations rapidly. Under the OBOR, and as US has been withdrawing from Afghanistan, China hopes to exert influence over Afghanistan. China has been engaging the Taliban (and other Islamist groups) since 1980s, when Islamic militants resisted the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Chinese arms were provided to Afghan mujahideen fighting the Soviets (China and Soviet Union had parted ways early on in 1970s). During the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, China wanted a relationship with the Taliban govt. to get a promise from them not to assist the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” (ETIM) or other Islamic extremist groups that aimed to target China inside Afghanistan. China’s ambassador to Pakistan, Lu Shulin had met Taliban leader Mullah Omar, but it was unfruitful and China distanced itself from the Taliban regime and cut ties with Afghanistan. China’s concern is based on security threats that may radicalize Xinjiang, where members of the Uyghur Muslim minority group are located. Xinjiang is vulnerable to terrorism and extremism from Afghanistan. From the mid-1990s to 2001, ETIM had training camps in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan-Xinjiang security nexus is seen by China in particular in the close linkage between the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and finally the Islamic State with Uyghur terrorist groups. Afghan Taliban delegations have visited China in 2015 and 2016. In May 2015 also, China had organized a secret meeting between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Urumqi, the capital city of China’s Xinjiang Province. Taliban may have promised to “not attack” infra projects in the vast OBOR. For India, this overall development is not good news as China has turned south Asia into a zero-sum game against India, knowingly or unknowingly pushing Pakistan against India often. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which aims to turn Gwadar into a major and much shorter trade bypass, has seen heavy action. For India, the bad news also is that both China and Russia have not allowed Indian to have tough statements on cross-border terrorism issued – neither at the BRICS summit (Goa, Oct 2016) nor at the Heart of Asia summit (Amritsar, Dec 2016). And finally, India’s proposal on “Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism” is not going anywhere. Now all this, coupled with Chinese aggression on the borders and with Arunachal issue, has forced India's hand to invest heavily in securing its Eastern borders with strategic military assets. [We cover that part in this Bodhi, here]  Clearly, the global jigsaw puzzle is shifting shape. But winds of change can themselves suddenly change direction, and nothing is forever in this game.  


Here is an excellent, comprehensive session on "Terrorism". Conducted bilingually (English + Hindi). Learn. For a wealth of such resources, enrol in our Bodhi Booster Premium solution. Click here.





Peace and prosperity is the only viable route ahead for humanity. Unfortunately, festering wounds inflicted by terror attacks are undoing a lot of good work of the past decades. We hope that nations realize the folly of distinguishing bad terrorists from good ones, and come together as one race – the human race.


[Solve Bodhi Prashn ##question-circle##]


This Bodhi will be regularly updatedKeep visiting. And do share your thoughts in the Comments thread.

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    • Bodhi Links (for deeper study; Caution: some may be external links, some large PDFs)
      •  ##chevron-right## Intergovernmental organisations list  here ##chevron-right## Historial list of treaties here ##chevron-right## SAARC summit cancelled - The Hindu news here ##chevron-right## Vienna convention on law of treaties here ##chevron-right## SAARC secretariat official site here


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Bodhi Booster: SAARC feels the heat of terrorism!
SAARC feels the heat of terrorism!
A regional grouping with potential that could never be exploited, SAARC has not delivered to its potential.
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