SAARC is important although there are political intolerance in the region: CPD | Greenwatch Dhaka | The leading online daily of Bangladesh

SAARC is important although there are political intolerance in the region: CPD

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Dhaka-Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a civil society think thank, on Thursday said the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) still has its importance even though there political tensions in the region.“Saarc was formed with a goal of regional cooperation, which is still essential for the development of South Asia,” CPD Executive Director Prof Mustafizur Rahman told a press briefing at Brac Centre Inn here on the 9th South Asia Economic Summit (SAES IX).
“We hope the political tensions (between India and Pakistan) will reduce,” he said adding that the suspension of the 19th Saarc Summit has affected its activities, plans and philosophy to some extent.
Saarc is still needed to address the problems of South Asian people, economic challenges, water problems and electricity crisis, and share experiences and use common resources by the countries in the South Asia, he said.
Prof Mustafizur Rahman said the regional cooperation can continue even amid political tensions.
Noting that Saarc is a big scope for Bangladesh, he said, “In the variable geometric world, all tools matter for us. So, we need to tap the potentials of Saarc alongside that of other regional and sub-regional forums simultaneously.”
CPD Additional Director (Research) Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem said the importance of Saarc is the highest among regional and sub-regional forums in South Asia.
“We never think that the importance or necessity of Saarc has reduced in the present context. Though we haven’t achieved enough for various reasons, we must consider the successes so far we have gained through Saarc…we must consider its progress,” he said.
He said there is nothing new in the postponement of any Saarc summit as it happened in the past as well.
Dr Moazzem said there are many separate centres of Saarc in its member countries, which are working on particular issues. “The importance of Saarc is still there.”
He said the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative will not hamper the progress of Saarc as it can work within the framework of Saarc. Since the BBIN is a sub-regional forum, it will facilitate Saarc.
Noting that the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) is a unique initiative with some South Asian and Asean countries, he said, “It’s not alternative to Saarc either. Every forum has its own importance for its own character.”
On September 28, the 19th Saarc Summit, slated for November 9-10 in Islamabad, was postponed after Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and India announced inability to take part in it.
The announcement came amid tensions between India and Pakistan after militants suspected to have entered from Pakistan stormed an Indian Army base in Uri on September 18, killing 18 soldiers.

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