The Sunday Leader

SAARC With India And China Impossible

The 18th SAARC Summit ended in a depressing note at Kathmandu on Thursday with the leaders of the two biggest countries avoiding each other and shaking hands only at the tail end of the conference as a gesture to show that the conference was not a total flop. The two leaders, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan acted no better than two petulant schoolboys unable to settle old grudges.

A flop the Summit was when viewed from the point of view of the contributions it made or could have made in the future for the poorest quarter of humanity on this globe. SAARC’s primary objective at its inception was to lift the poverty ridden millions to better standards of living. But for almost 30 years the region has been left stranded as the two leading nations of the group went out consistently for the jugulars of each other.

On the other hand both countries have risen from the status of animal dung powers to nuclear powers. India has gone to the Moon, Mars and is now looking out to the stars. The need for national security and international prestige can be appreciated but what should be the priority of a nation: Nuclear bombs and space exploration or providing a decent life for the poor?

The national security of both countries is vital but sophisticated armaments including nuclear weapons are no answer to the terrorist threats faced by both of them. Thus if greater efforts had been made to cure the sores of their body politic that proliferates terrorism, national security would have been ensured.

Another prime requirement for national security is good relations with its neighbours. The cornerstone of Indian foreign policy, since Independence, is its good relations with its neighbours. But SAARC itself has demonstrated that India has more problems with its immediate neighbours than with any other country or grouping. And India’s complaint about SAARC is that its small neighbours are constantly sniping at the Indian giant.

Sri Lanka is a good example of India having at times destroyed good relations that existed between the two countries. For whatever reasons, India should not have sponsored separatist Tamil terror groups on this island. Sri Lanka was compelled to find assistance outside the region for its survival such as from China. Now India perceives – mistakenly – a threat of China emanating from Sri Lanka.

Whatever the faults of India may have been, its inclusion in SAARC is a sine qua non because of its sheer magnitude in size and resources. It cannot be wished away.

Even though China is a great and rising power and wants to join SAARC, its entry is not going to make SAARC work more efficiently but instead paralyse it and cause unimaginable chaos in South Asia.

India and China are the two rival powers in Asia and there is simply no room for the two inside SAARC. It will be recalled that they warred in 1962 over their borders and that rancor still remains. The over reaction of the Indian media to any perceived Chinese infringement on its borders at times reaches hysterical levels even more than when there are disputes with their traditional foe, Pakistan. Chinese entry will create parallel problems as with Pakistan and the disappearance of SAARC will be inevitable.

But India, despite being an emerging power and is a country of billionaires, has not been able to take SAARC into greener pastures. In this context SAARC members will have to rethink its strategies.

There will be pulls to drag SAARC away from India because of religious affinities and geopolitical pulls but all that will be unrealistic. Alternate strategies to SAARC have to be thought of. Perhaps bi-lateral assistance instead of the multilateral kind could be an alternative.

But the stark reality is that no country is willing or capable to give assistance to developing countries other than China.

6 Comments for “SAARC With India And China Impossible”

  1. S Shivalingham

    porkistan is another pariah and terrorist state like sri lanka. both are pauper counties and sri lanka being for 2,500 years. do we really need a nation of beggars after the so called 2,500 years of existence. porkistan and sri lanka beg from red china for survival. these two pariah states will do anything to please chinese masters. these beggars prefer yellow skin over black skin.

  2. gsc

    Amazingly superfluous, misguided, under researched article full of errors, omissions and glaring episodes of patronizing and condescending attitude.

  3. Vivek Mishra

    Indeed SAARC summit was entirely flop due to Indian policy of aggression. Still there is ray of hope in futuristic plans of SAARC to normalize tensions in South Asia. The importance and influence of SAARC will gain new heights if China joins this regional organization. China can play a active role in SAARC. Being a global economic power, China can play vital role in regionalism.

  4. Tanisha

    SAARC is an association of South Asian region where all the regional states have equal rights to join the association and must be given freedom of thought and expression. A participation of a country must not be affected by its own personal traits. China like India have the equal right to participate in the SAARC. This is the strategy of India to make its own mosque and not the China. China is a friendly country and i dont think it can ever harm any country.

  5. Jackson

    India’s concerns regarding China’s disruptive role in SAARC, are seldom shared by any one of them instead they held the positive perception of a rising China. Even Bhutan is uneasy with its frozen‘non-relations’ with China and, given ‘clearance’ by India, would be happy to resolve its border issues and establish diplomatic relations with China.

    Islamabad’s prime interest in advocating Beijing’s membership in SAARC is not to counter India in South Asia as Chinese foreign policy in the last three decades rejects alliances, encirclement and containment but to be benefited from China’s enormous economic power that can be a source of strength for the countries of South Asia.

  6. Trevor Jayetileke

    SAARC is a ‘Poor Mans Club” with 5% of Global Trade while G20 is a ‘Rich Mans Club”.with 85% of Global Trade. If India and China can be together in the G20 why is it hard for them to be together in SAARC?
    At the same time India wants to talk Trade with the US, China and Japan., and also wants to be in the ASEAN camp as well., but cannot work in concert with Pakistan or China for that matter because of primarily due to its border issues.
    India has become a “Elephant in the Room” and is a unique case that has to be viewed due to the poverty that exists there as we see their issues in the WTO.
    India needs assistance from the ‘Twin Sisters’ to lift it from this predicament as I see it., and SAARC is not that vehicle and even China joining SAARC will make little difference. If all all its better for IRAN to join SAARC as a full member and that is with my knowledge as a Global Petroleum Analyst.

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