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How SAARC is reviving

New Life Within SAARC

Published Year: 2005

Published by: Institute of Foreign Affairs(IFA) & Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

Editors: Dev Raj Dahal & Nischal N. Pandey

Price: Not mentioned


WHEN South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was visualized and the first summit was held in 1985, it was the first time the countries of South Asia had looked inwards for regional cooperation. It was a significant step forward towards bringing the countries that have been marred by differences and disparities politically, economically and socially.

This was the region, which had common roots politically, economically and socially, but political misgivings, especially between India and Pakistan and also between other countries of the region, had created deep distrust among the countries. This distrust had created conflict and suspicions making regional cooperation so far away. Moreover, small irritants, political as well as economic, between the countries had created a setback to regional cooperation.

Even after the formation of a platform for regional cooperation, the regional body remained almost inept and functionless for almost 15 years and SAARC had failed to take off from routine ceremonies and speeches. It is only recently that SAARC has gained some concrete ground in terms of cooperation in the real sense. One of the failures of the regional grouping was its failure in identifying the areas where the countries of the region could cooperate. The issue of cooperation was overshadowed by conflict and commonalities with differences and there was politics of exclusion.

Finally, after 20 long years SAARC has been able to separate politics from economic cooperation and has found identified and agreed on areas where it could cooperate - in fighting terrorism and on trade. The last two summits - in Islamabad and Dhaka - has been able to give some impetus with the adoption of Social Charter, SAFTA and Declaration against Terrorism. The New Life Within SAARC, compilation of articles of prominent personalities involved in different aspects regionally or within their respective countries gives insights on the new developments in the region and the vision as envisioned for the regional body in the future. The views presented in the articles clearly show that there has been a new realization that 'United We Stand'.

The authors that include foreign policy experts, research scholars, army top brasses, defense strategists, political scientists and those who were at the helm of foreign policy of their countries. For this matter, the book published by Institute of Foreign Affairs and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung ( Nepal) gives insights about the evolution and progression of SAARC as more of a talking shop to a business like body.

The editors Nishchal Nath Pandey, Executive Director of IFA, and Dev Raj Dahal, Head of the FES Nepal office and Associate Professor of Political Science at TU have a deep understanding of the problems and prospects of the region.

All the 16 articles in the book relate to the newfound areas in furthering SAARC such as new visions, SAFTA and its progress, dealing with problem of terrorism in the reason. The best thing about the book is that it gives views and opinions not on drags but on taking SAARC forward in the future.

This book is also a document on the conduits of foreign policies coupled with economic policies of the countries of the region. Each of them is deeply analyzed and scrutinized that can give guidelines on the SAARC process and in meeting the regional challenges.

(Reviewed by Swodesh Khatri)

Source: People's Review (26 January-1 February 2006)

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