India, Pakistan spat affects Saarc summits | delhi | Hindustan Times
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India, Pakistan spat affects Saarc summits

delhi Updated: Nov 08, 2011 00:33 IST
HT Correspondent

Maldives, the host of this year's South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit, has been vocal about the differences between India and Pakistan coming in the way of the eight-member grouping's flourish.

Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed spoke of his concerns at the inaugural session of the summit in Thimpu last year, and used many forums since then to repeat his views.

And despite Maldives concerns, most eyes will again be set on the meeting between PM Manmohan Singh and his Pakistan counterpart, Yusuf Raza Gilani. Singh will be in Maldives for the summit as well as a bilateral meeting with his Nasheed from November 9 to 12.

Moreover, India-Pakistan mistrust affects forward movements on many SaarcC initiatives. "Most occasions, Pakistan prefers to see Saarc through Indian prism," an Indian official said. And Afghanistan being added to the grouping has added to this approach, he opines.

One example for this would be the much-talked about the connectivity plans-linking the South Asia through Railways, highways and waterways-famously unveiled at the New Dehi Saarc summit.

The proposal is struggling to considerable progress. "We are hopeful of it moving forward in an year's time," another official said.

Then it would not be easy for Islamabad to grant India access to Afghanistan through its territory because of strategic reasons.

India-Pakistan issues have also been affecting the Saarc making progress on trade.

The intra Saarc trade is abysmal compared to trade within other similar regional groupings. Pakistan's willingness to give India most favoured nation (MFN) status is expected to give a fillip to the trade within the groupings.

"MFN, certainly the implementation of the IMF process, as and when that actually

comes into effect, will we believe have a very positive impact on Indo-Pakistan bilateral trade. And certainly through that it could impact the overall intra-Saarc trade," foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai had said last Saturday.

At present, the intra-regional trade stands at around 5 per cent in South Asia against over 50% in East Asia and about 20% in Latin America.