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Stalled Saarc process shows signs of resumption

The stalled Saarc process could get a shot in the arm as the member states have agreed on holding a meeting of the grouping’s Programming Committee.

world Updated: Jan 05, 2017 22:04 IST
HT Correspondent
File photo of leaders of Saarc states at a summit in Kathmandu in November 2014.
File photo of leaders of Saarc states at a summit in Kathmandu in November 2014.(Reuters)

The stalled Saarc process could get a shot in the arm as the eight member states have agreed to join a meeting of the grouping’s Programming Committee in Kathmandu during February 1-2.

The future of the grouping has been hanging in the balance after India pulled out from the 19th Saarc Summit in Pakistan in November last year following a terror attack on an Indian Army camp at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18.  

India’s decision was supported by other member countries and led to the postponement of the summit and other Saarc processes.  

Since the summit’s postponement, there was little communication among member states and no meetings or engagements were planned.

All eight members have now given their concurrence for the meeting proposed by the Saarc Secretariat in Kathmandu, which will be attended by officers of the rank of joint secretary or director general.

Earlier the Programming Committee was to meet ahead of the Saarc Summit in Pakistan.

“The decision to participate in the meeting by the member states is a positive signal at least for Nepal, which is also the chair of grouping,” said a senior foreign ministry official. “The opportunity likely to set a positive tone to convene other meetings in the future.”

After the summit’s postponement, the Nepal government faced criticism for not using formal and informal channels to persuade India and Pakistan to agree on the holding of the summit by patching up their differences.    

At a news conference last week, foreign minister Prakash Sharan Mahat played down the criticism and said: “We are in communications with all member states, many of them are suggesting to us to cool down the tension between India and Pakistan first before Nepal makes any pitch for a meaningful Saarc process.”

As soon as the tensions begin reducing, “we will muster our diplomatic effort to resume all stalled processes as the Saarc chair”, he added.    

The foreign ministry official said the Saarc Secretariat had received confirmation from India and Pakistan regarding their participation in the Programming Committee meeting. According to officials, the upcoming meet will discuss the budget of the Saarc Secretariat and five regional centers and other matters.