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News Analysis: Outcome of Recent SAARC Summit

OUTCOME OF RECENT SAARC SUMMIT

18th summit of SAARC is underway but so far that nothing spectacular is happening. India has made 3 proposals but there are apparent reservations from Pakistan, which is buying time.
3 CRITICAL AGREEMENTS PUT FORWARD:
1.Road connectivity
2.Rail connectivity
3.Energy
if these agreements are inked by SAARC it would be a very significant step in the region especially when once the connectivity in the region is created then trade, tourism, people to people exchange would be benefited.
Pakistan has reservations for motor vehicles and rail linkages as they do not want their vehicles especially trucks commuting to Afghanistan.
OTHER OPTIONS:
Even if Pakistan doesn’t agree then it would be possible for the rest of the countries except Afghanistan to proceed in terms of bilateral agreements. India has already started working on it like- bus services are going on between Nepal and India, road and railway and road link up with Bangladesh is also being facilitated.
ENERGY GRID
In terms of Energy grid there is consensus but problem is that in energy grid there is not much energy to flow.
Nepal has to go in for its own hydro power.
India is importing energy from Bhutan and also exporting to Nepal and Pakistan (in small quantity though)
PAKISTAN’s MAJOR MOTIVE TO HAVE RESERVATIONS:
– Role of Pakistan army, as it is one of the major stake holder in decisions taken in Pakistan.
– Also it is Pakistan’s national decision not to let India getting close to Afghanistan as there is wide apprehensions that India is one of the major contributor to the redevelopment of Afghanistan. They not only do not want any security role of India in Afghanista but also in terms of economic engagement. They feel that they would be competing against Indian influence in Afganistan.
– There is a sense of growing uneasiness as India is actively involved in helping by training bureactrats in education field and health field for which even Indian army endorses
OUR PM’S LANDMARK INITIATIVES 
1. Immediate medical visa for entire region. Both for patient and one attendant.
2. E-connectivity – online courses and E-libraries
3. SAARC business travel card to promote trade
4. India is willing to invest if there is any fund shortage in the region.
5. SAARC supra regional reference library
6. SAARC special medical assistance for TB and HIV as this quite prevalent in this region.
PASS PASS SAATH SAATH:
This is the new phrase coined by our PM meaning closer to each other and to be together.We understood that despite being close to each other geographically, we are yet to reach full potential to be close in terms of socially, culturally and most importantly economically. We got to realize that poverty is our biggest common enemy. Currently only 5% trade is happening in the region
The Bold statements made by our PM on this note:
Open India to neighbors in matters of
i. Trade
ii. Visa
iii. Infrastructure
iv. Education
v. Health services
vi. Satellite (SAARC satellite)
vii. Space technology
None of the major areas is untouched and its an invitation to come together and progress together.
SOME POTENTIAL AREAS TO BE TAPPED;
For instance goods travelling from Punjab to Punjab going through Dubai.
Similarly goods from Pakistan to Srilanka travel all around India
So because of lack of connectivity we are not only loosing custom duties domestically but also consumers have to pay extra price.
CHINA FACTORS AND POSSIBLE APPREHENSIONS WITHIN SAARC;
– China proceeded to invest $30 billion on its own to create new infrastructure in South Asia region
– It also wants trade transaction to increase to $150 billion
– But it has its own vulnerability in Tibet region.
– Also China realizes the market potential of this region and its economic muscle is too strong that it badly needs to tap this market of 1.6 billion population – -growing at the rate of 5 to 6% and even can grow up-to 7%.
– But making China full member of SAARC is like giving veto power, as all decisions are taken unanimously.It must also be looked into carefully as china is blocking developmental projects in Arunachal Pradesh and constructing dam on the Brahmaputra without taking our concerns.
– Behaviour of China in other engagements is not so pleasant. For instance it almost shook ASEAN by bringing in COMBODIA which did not even make a   final statement.
INDIA’S POSITIVE STEPS TAKEN BILATERALLY:
WITH NEPAL: This is the 2nd visit made by our PM to Nepal since he took over. so it is more of a consolidation of agreements and assurances given during the 1st visit.PM has made all efforts to shed off the reservations that Nepal had and the kind of trust deficit both countries developed.
WITH BANGLADESH: Given assurance that India would attend and address land border and Teesta river agreement. This would restore confidence
WITH SRI LANKA: There is a question of constitutional amendment and our NSA would be meeting soon.
WITH AFGHANISTAN: Promised that we would continuously help in reconstruction and rebuilding the nation.