Sunday, December 10, 2023
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Reinvigorating SAARC


I would like to express my deep concern regarding SAARC upcoming SAARC Summit which is going to be held in Islamabad, Pakistan through the medium of your esteemed daily newspaper. One of the key challenges that states face across the globe is how to effectively deal with Collective Goods’ Problems. It’s a concept in International Relations. IR scholars can make a better sense of it; however, let me decode it for a better understanding of readers. The Collective Goods’ Problem refers to that problem which states collectively face and in the resolution of which all states have stakes; however, not all states put their expected share in the resolution of that problem, as at a point in time, taking a step for the resolution of any collective problem may jeopardise a state’s vested interest.So, in simple words, the Collective Goods’ Problem is a clash between collective interests of the states and their individual interests. Its examples across the globe in recent history can be seen in a hesitant collaboration among states in dealing with global issues like climate change, the refugee problem in Europe, nuclear proliferation, rising waves of populism and the growing sense of discontentment in the South in the wake of globalisation.South Asia is not immune to Collective Goods’ Problems. Faced with the issues of overpopulation, rising levels of economic
marginalisation, climate change and bilateral rivalries between states especially the long-standing issue of Kashmir between Pakistan and India, the whole region is facing a lot of collective problems where member states need to play their role for their resolution as a delay in this regard is pushing the whole region to pay a heavy price for it, maybe not in the short term but definitely in the long run. Theoretically, International Relations suggests three principles through which Collective Goods’ Problems can be resolved. These principles comprise Dominance, Reciprocity and Identity. “Dominance” says that powerful countries should decide the terms in dealing with collective problems. So in the case of South Asia, as per the Dominance principle, politically and economically strong countries should play their part proactively in the resolution of collective problems. “Reciprocity” says that states can solve collective problems through the principle of “Give and Take”. In other words, in dealing with any collective problem, states can incentivise cooperation of member states and disincentivise states for lack of cooperation. “Identity” says that states can solve a collective problem if they focus on their bigger identity instead of focusing on their individual identity.
Currently, of the above mentioned principles for the solution of collective goods’ problems, which principle can work effectively? That’s a question worth exploration; however, in reality, it seems that all of South Asia has failed in finding a way to solve its collective problems. In 1985, the region established the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for better integration in pursuit of peace and prosperity. SAARC has not been able to bring all the members on the same page and has not been effectively used so far for the resolution of perennial issues of South Asia. A lot of push-and-pull has been observed among member states in SAARC since its birth and this tug of war is more vocal between the leading giants of South Asia, which includes India and Pakistan because of having no common understanding over long-standing issues including Kashmir.The last summit of SAARC was held in 2014 in Kathmandu, Nepal. In 2016, Pakistan was supposed to host the SAARC summit; however, India refused to be a part of it because of militants attack on army in the Uri sector Kashmir of Jammu Union Territory andKashmir.Keeping in view terror spreading activities of Pakistan, other countries like Sri Lanka,Bhutan and Afghanistan boycotted the SAARC summit in 2016
Since then, no SAARC summit has happened and it is now the rotational turn of Pakistan to hold a SAARC summit during the first half of this year 2022, with a key focus on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.I hope that Pakistan welcome India to participate in the upcoming 19th SAARC Summit as India being a member and biggest contributor of economic fund as compared to other seven member countries of the SAARC.If India doesn’t want to participate in person, then it can attend virtually also, so that the hand of Pakistan in flourishing,breeding and generating millitancy should be exposed infront of the Eight member countries of the SAARC. This SAARC summit is currently the need of the hour. There is a lot at stake in South Asia at the moment and SAARC can turn out to be the best platform not only for the resolution of various Collective Goods’ Problems but also it can be effectively used for regional cooperation, regional economic activity and regional trade.
I hope that all the member states in general and India and Pakistan in particular, should think about a better future for South Asia and resolved all the outstanding and buring issues on the same table.Last but not least it all depends upon how flexible we are in accommodating one another.
Yours etc. .
Mool Raj
R /O Village Bhagota
Distt and Teh Doda
Mool Raj
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