IMPORTANT GD AND LACTURETTE TOPICS
18th SAARC SUMMIT 2014 The 18th SAARC Summit at Kathmandu has concluded. Like previous summits, fears loomed large that this will also prove another unproductive summit, because three agreements regarding rail, road and power connectivity which were supposed to be signed during the summit were met with resistance from Pakistan. Resolutions in the SAARC are passed on the basis of consensus and Pakistan did not sign the agreement as they did not get sufficient time to consider the proposals and get internal approvals. The SAARC summits in the past have also witnessed similar obstructions in arriving at simple solutions to common problems due to lack of confidence, understanding and continuous territorial conflicts between India and Pakistan. Notwithstanding the contradictory pulls within the SAARC nations, the dynamic Indian leadership managed to get the approval of all countries on the three agreements.
In his inaugural address Prime Minister Narender Modi underlined vision of the regional cooperation, prosperity and security, if SAARC member nations developed closer ties among themselves and visualized what India can offer to them in this regard. He pointed out that when the world was negotiating global trade and creating free-trade areas, the total trade within South-Asian region is as low as 5% of regionís global trade. There were great possibilities to increase trade within the region, if intra-regional infrastructure is improved. He assured that he was willing to walk a mile in this direction by supporting cross-regional infrastructure, energy co-operation, easier business visas including a saarc business traveler card, and the establishment of a saarc reference laboratory for TB and HIV. He also promised to make good on its gift of a saarc satellite by 2016.
Earlier Islamabad proposed that China and South Korea, both observers in SAARC, may be made permanent members of the grouping. Some cabinet ministers of Nepal also backed the proposal. In fact, the President of Maldives, President of Sri Lanka and PM of Bangladesh were also in favour of engaging observers to facilitate economic growth in the region. But India realised that China wanted to expand her trade and political influence in the region which may work against our interest. So India rejected the suggestion on the grounds that SAARC needed deepening of cooperation within the countries of the group, before considering any expansion.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appealed for implementation of South Asia Free trade Agreement (SAFTA) which was signed by saarc member states in 2004. Under the accord the developing countries of South Asia (India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) were to reduce the duties on goods to 20% by 2007 and were supposed to reduce to zero by 2012.
26th November, happened to be the sixth anniversary of Pakistan sponsored terror attack on Taj Hotel, Mumbai which shook the nation. Prime Minister Modi eloquently recreated the terrible act of Pakistan and all neighbors backed the PMís counter terror pitch. In bilateral meetings with other countries, the leaders of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal and Bhutan emphasized the need for cooperation in tackling terror.
Finally, the Summit concluded on 27th November, 2014 with a declaration that the next summit will be held in Islamabad in 2016.
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