SAARC ministerial meetings are taking place one after another, but summit is unlikely anytime soon

Kathmandu, October 9

Three ministerial meetings have taken place under the SAARC process in past one month. However, the 19th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, pending since 2016, is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

The summit was scheduled to be held in Islamabad of Pakistan in November 2016, but it has not taken place, apparently due to the hostility between India and Pakistan. It has been six years since the last summit was held in Kathmandu.

However, other events of the regional body have got momentum of late. On Thursday, a meeting among education ministers of the member states took place virtually. The SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu says the ministers discussed how to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on education.

On September 24, the foreign affairs ministers had held a meeting, during which Nepal’s Pradeep Gyawali had urged other governments to “explore all viable options to hold the 19th summit at an early date and to generate the new momentum and dynamism in SAARC.”

However, such meetings would not contribute much to creating an environment for the summit, according to analysts.

Foreign affairs expert Dinesh Bhattarai says the level of realisation that SAARC should be strengthened has increased, but the summit is still far away given that India and Pakistan still seem adamant on their stances.

Foreign affairs analyst Chandra Dev Bhatta says regular interactions among the members was a must although the summit could not be imagined anytime soon.

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