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The Big Picture – SAARC SUMMIT: Has India enhanced ties with neighbours?

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Summary:

The two day 18th SAARC summit in Kathmandu has come to a conclusion with the signing of energy treaty.

The summit which was expected to work out more wide ranging agreements, however, was overshadowed by the frosty ties between India and Pak.

Before the summit, there was also a talk of bringing China into the SAARC.

The results seem to be underwhelming. The summit itself took place after 3 years.

A strong political will is required to go ahead with the pending agreements.

Bilaterally, India and Pak have not been able to do much but at the regional level much can be done.

SAARC charter does not allow for bilateral matters to be placed on the table.

Today, SAARC has been badly distorted than showing any signs of regional grouping.

India’s inability to carry the community along is also being criticised at the international level.

China received observer status in 2006.

Due to some strategic issues, China has been kept out of SAARC.

China’s Silk Road initiative is encompassing the regions around India and hence China is very much interested in entering into SAARC.

Pak, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Maldives and Nepal have strongly been pushing for China’s membership.

Chinese have an imprint in every South Asian country including India.

It is also true that India cannot match with China in terms of Money Power.

The total investment by China in SAARC countries is 4 billion Dollars. They have foreign exchange reserve of 4 trillion dollars. In India their investments are 1.1 billion. In Pak it is slightly more.

The Chinese aid/investment is coming at a very high cost both at economic and political level. They also often come with high interests.

SAARC should get its identity before being expanded.

With China having so many supporters, India needs to be cautious.

The motto of SAARC is collective self reliance.