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Current Affairs

Cancellation of SAARC meeting

Date: 24 September 2021 Tags: India & World

Issue

The scheduled meeting of Foreign ministers of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries has been cancelled.

 

Background

Ever since the takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban, there has been debate whether to allow the terrorist group to represent the country.

 

Details

  • India and Pakistan have not reached a consensus on participation of Afghanistan in the meet. The earlier stance of allowing official from previous government to represent the country was opposed by Pakistan.

  • Other SAARC countries including India had agreed to keep an empty chair for symbolic representation. Pakistan later insisted that Taliban official be allowed to participated, which was opposed by all others.

  • Nepal is the host of the summit. It cancelled the meet after Pakistan did not budge from its unilateral position.

 

Objection by countries

  • The Taliban government has been recognised only by Pakistan as official government. The majority of its leaders are blacklisted and they carry bounty.

  • Non-blacklisted leaders have strong affiliation with terrorist organizations or directly support terrorist activities.

  • Allowing Taliban representative to participate would send a signal of legitimizing its rule. This will concern India and the whole western block.

  • Pakistan already has strong ties with Taliban, especially the Haqqani network. The Haqqani network has been at the forefront of deadly attacks on India.

 

Expression of concern

  • India in particular has been critical of Taliban, calling it a non-inclusive government which cannot be legitimized.

  • Other SAARC countries are also vary of the effects that rise of Taliban will have within their territory, especially the rise of extremism.

  • India has warned that Afghanistan can be cradle for illegal drug trafficking, human trafficking and also smuggling of weapons.

 

History of SAARC

  • It is an inter-governmental organization of South Asian countries viz India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.

  • The observers of the group include members such as China, European Union, Iran, Us etc. Afghanistan became a member in 2007.

  • The official formation of SAARC took place by signing the Declaration on South Asian Association Regional Cooperation in Dhaka in 1983.

  • The mandate includes cooperation in several fields such as:

  • Agriculture

  • Rural development

  • Telecommunications

  • Meteorology

  • Health and population activities

 

Entry of Afghanistan

  • Afghanistan applied for the membership in 2005. It was however opposed by Pakistan due to its nascent democracy and also perception as Central Asian country.

  • As a compromise, it was agreed to admit Afghanistan if it is successful in holding non-partisan general elections. This was held in 2007 and subsequently admitted to the group.

 

Success of SAARC

  • SAARC has given a platform for representatives from member countries to meet and discuss important issues.

  • The group has been successful in signing agreements related to climate change, food security and combating the Covid-19 crisis.