Reviving SAARC to deal with China


As India-China border tensions escalate, several foreign policy experts argue that India’s dealing with China has to begin with South Asia. In this regard, it is important to reinvigorate SAARC, which has been in doldrums since 2014. India’s political interest in SAARC dipped significantly due to the increasing animosity with Pakistan. With this India started investing in BIMSTEC as an alternative to SAARC, though SAARC has reasons that it cannot be replaced by BIMSTEC, as BIMSTEC lacks common and historical identity among its members. Moreover, BIMSTEC focuses on the Bay of Bengal region, thus making it inappropriate frum to engage all South Asian Nations. The article has highlighted and explained some ways in which SAARC can be revived as South Asia is the least integrated region in the world with intra-regional trade at 5% compared to ASEAN which has 25%. The challenges which India faces in the revival of SAARC are the rise of anti-Pakistan and Islamophobic rhetoric. This not only harms India’s foreign policy but as well as destroys India’s soft power of a liberal and secular state. The Prime Minister did well by reaching out to SAARC leaders earlier this year, but such flash in the pan moments won’t help without sustained engagement.

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