Officials of Saarc states gathered in the Nepalese capital on Wednesday to discuss budget allocations for regional centres, raising hopes that the meeting could pave the way for the revival of the grouping which has been hit by India-Pakistan tensions.
The Saarc process hit a snag after the summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad last November was indefinitely postponed when India expressed its inability to participate.
Officials of the eight member states are participating in a two-day meeting of the Saarc Programming Committee to discuss the budget allocations for five regional centre and specialised bodies and their annual programmes.
Though officials of the rank of joint secretary are participating in the meeting, it is expected to help ease tensions between India and Pakistan and lead to the resumption of the Saarc process, sources said. They added there was also hope that the meet will pave the way for more meetings at a higher level.
One diplomat participating in the meeting told Hindustan Times that officials from India and Pakistan were “very positive, accommodative and flexible” on the first day.
A “call from the political level is very important” to ease tensions and take forward the Saarc process, the diplomat added.
After India announced in September that it was pulling out of the Islamabad summit in the wake of the cross-border terror attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Sri Lanka followed suit, leaving the fate of the bloc hanging in the balance.
Pakistan then announced the postponement of the summit, throwing Nepal, the current chair of Saarc, into a quandary.
Earlier, the Programming Committee was supposed to meet ahead of the Saarc Summit. The Programming Committee is the lowest mechanism in Saarc after the Standing Committee, which comprises foreign secretaries, and Council of Ministers.