South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation which became dormant due to the India Pakistan conflict has been reactivated due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Prime Minister of India initiated the revival of the SAARC group by proposing to set up an Emergency Fund of $10 million and formation of a Rapid Response Team consisting of Doctors, specialists, testing equipment and attendant infrastructure in order to combat the pandemic.
Cooperation between the member nations of the SAARC group is required in order to protect their countries from facing deep economic crises.
Problems Of SAARC Nations In Relation To COVID-19
Many SAARC member nations share their boundaries with China, the place where the virus originated.
The Maldives And Sri Lanka have highlighted that they may face a massive economic impact of the decline of the tourism sector as it is a major source of generating revenue and employment.
Afghanistan being a landlocked nation is struggling as the virus affected nations like Iran and Pakistan have closed their borders which has affected the flow of trade.
As the population density in the SAARC member countries is very high the chances if rapid transmission is very high.
Status Of COVID-19 In SAARC Region
The data shared by the member nations reveals that till now the region is not that severely affected.
The Region shared only 0.64% of global COVID-19 cases and it is due to:
- South Asia’s climate
- Decisive measures by the governments
- People’s unique immunity
- Limited testing
- A peculiarity of the strain of the virus.
General Zia Ur Rehman of Bangladesh initiated the idea of SAARC in 1980.
It resulted in the first summit of the seven leaders of the south asia region in 1985. Later Afghanistan joined in 2007.
SAARC member nations are- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal.
The Secretariat of the SAARC association is situated in Kathmandu.
Reasons of SAARC Failure
After nearly 35 years of existence, SAARC has not lived up to its promise of regional integration.
Trade between SAARC countries is less than 5% and is one of the least integrated regions of the world.
The India-Pakistan conflict has undermined SAARC as the last scheduled summit which was to be held in Islamabad was postponed due after the terrorist attack in the Uri sector and no such summit has been held since then.
India’s economic position in relation to other member nations is much higher which creates an impression of India being a big brother rather than a strategic partner.
Pakistan’s use of terror as an instrument of foreign policy has made it impossible for India to participate in normal business procedures.