Pakistan exploring greater SAARC to counter India’s ‘influence’: Report

Pakistan exploring greater SAARC to counter India’s ‘influence’: Report


BP International Desk:

Pakistan is learnt to be exploring the possibility of creating a greater South Asian economic alliance to counter India’s alleged controlling hold on the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in the aftermath of boycott of the summit, as per media reports.

According to a report published in Dawn newspaper today, a parliamentary delegation from Pakistan recently pitched this idea during its five-day visit to Washington last week.

“Apparently, the showdown forced Pakistan to conclude that in its present shape, SAARC will always be dominated by India. That’s why they are now talking about a greater South Asia,” an unnamed senior diplomat was quoted as saying in Dawn newspaper today.

Another diplomat told the paper that “Pakistan hopes that this new arrangement will give it more room to manoeuvre when India tries to force a decision on it”.

The newspaper further quoted Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed as saying that a greater South Asia was already emerging. “The greater South Asia includes China, Iran and the neighbouring Central Asian republics,” Syed told Dawn.

The newspaper also stated quoting diplomatic observers that the proposed arrangement also suits China as it is also worried about India’s rapidly growing influence in the region.

Pakistan is apparently irritated over the way India used its influence to isolate this Islamic nation in SAARC as member countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan joined India to boycott the summit leading to its indefinite postponement.

The boycott took place in the light of September 18 terrorist attack at Uri army camp in Kashmir where India alleges Pakistan-backed militants were involved—a charge which Pakistan denies.

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