BIMSTEC can be a better alternative of the south Asian economy than SAARC. Critically examine.

11/25/2016| Views(650 ) | Writing Structure |Qchat

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For too long, India had conflated its regionalism with SAARC that was established three decades ago at the initiative of Bangladesh. While Delhi and Islamabad were both wary of the move in the mid-1980s, it was the inward economic orientation of the Subcontinent that limited possibilities for regional cooperation. As the Subcontinent launched economic reforms in the 1990s, regional integration appeared a natural consequence waiting to happen. As the South Asian states opened up to the world, it seemed sensible to connect with each other. But that was not how it turned out.
India, on its part, inched towards accepting regionalism as an economic and political necessity. The SAARC, in turn, began to emphasise trade liberalisation, regional connectivity and trans-border economic projects. South Asia sought to evolve, much in the manner that the Association of South East Asian Nations had stitched itself together two decades earlier.
As SAARC developed new proposals and agreements in favour of preferential trade, free trade, road and rail connectivity and cross-border energy projects, it became clear that Pakistan was the camel that slowed down the pace of the South Asian caravan. More accurately, it was the Pakistan Army headquartered in Rawalpindi that exercised the veto..
Indian government is now eager to re-energise the BIMSTEC forum. As part of that commitment, it had invited the BIMSTEC leaders to join the BRICS leaders at the Goa summit .
The turn to the east, however, does not resolve India’s Pakistan problem in promoting economic cooperation with Afghanistan. Rawalpindi is dead set against letting Indian goods move overland to Afghanistan, despite fervent appeals from Kabul and an occasional entreaty from Washington. With no physical access to Afghanistan, Delhi needs to find creative ways to deepen bilateral economic engagement with Kabul bilaterally and through trilateral cooperation with other partners like Tehran.
Pakistan is free to choose its partners. It has consciously embraced China as the strategic economic partner; Rawalpindi believes that restoring historic economic connectivity with India is a threat to Pakistan. India can’t compel Pakistan to join the project of South Asian integration. Instead of bemoaning that fact, Delhi must devote itself to bilateral, sub-regional and trans-regional cooperation with our neighbours, all of whom except Pakistan want India to do more.

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