Pakistan stalls SAARC, objects to key proposals
KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 26
Just an hour after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for a close integration between the South Asian nations, Pakistan stalled the SAARC summit by blocking the key proposals that India had put forth – to integrate energy grids and free up road and rail movement, which Modi said could improve cross-border trade between SAARC nations.
Pakistan stalled the inking of SAARC connectivity agreements, including motor vehicle pact, saying it was yet to complete its “internal process”. However, Sharif and NSA Sartaj Aziz refused to answer questioned put up by the media person if Pakistan was trying to block agreements in SAARC.Addressing the SAARC gathering for the first time, Modi raised quite a few key issues calling for closer integration between the nations of the region. Pointing that the achievements of the SAARC have been negligible over the years, Modi said in his assessment, “As SAARC we have failed to move with the speed that our people expect and want.”
With no agreements being signed after Pakistan’s objection, the 18th SAARC summit, held after three years in Kathmandu, turned out to be, like other summits before it, a non-achiever.
The agreements which were prepared by India before the summit were on improving road and rail connections and also on making electricity trade easier for the power-starved countries in the region. No such agreement will now proceed after objections by Pakistan.
The 30 years of SAARC have not achieved desirable results in term of economic ties or development of its eight members – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Also the trade between the South Asian nations is merely 5 percent despite a free trade pact which was signed in 2006.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who also addressed the summit today, had said that regional cooperation between the SAARC nations must strengthened, and that Pakistan is committed to dispute-free Asia.
Ahead of Modi’s visit here to attend the summit, the cabinet had cleared the signing and ratifying of the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement and SAARC Regional Railways Agreement by India, as a member state of SAARC.
India and Sri Lanka have been pitching for strengthening the people-to-people contact and movement of goods in the region.
PTI reported that the blocking of the agreements have created disappointment among the India after they had initiated the proposals. Though, it is being reported quoting sources, India has already gone ahead with bilateral connectivity pacts with countries within SAARC and Tuesday’s Motor Vehicle Agreement with Nepal was an example of that.