A conference was convened on Wednesday, to discuss the impact of coronavirus in the region and how the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) forum could come up with a common strategy. The deliberations took place as a follow up to an India initiated video conference of SAARC leaders on 15 March.
In times of a global health crisis, a very politically inconsequential step it seems. Not so by the megalomaniac neighbour, Pakistan.
Pakistan declines to join.
Buccaneers of Erga Omnes
Pakistan: the Feral in International Solidarity
It is not new, in Dec 2019 Bangladesh Foreign Ministry had said: “You know why SAARC is not prospering, one main reason is the enmity(by Pakistan)”. He also said that BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal) and BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) is doing better.
Pakistan has repeatedly in all the forum that it gets a chance to latch on to a podium, is found least constructive to the development of the forum, and seems to be only imaginative in its rhetoric on Kashmir. Pakistan, since last decade, has been ignored by the international community, due to apparent disinterest in world affairs, while being deflected and deferred, only to return back to another international forum, either with a begging bowl or with a tirade against India.
Pakistan’s insistence on being the bannerman of terrorism, was spanked following the Uri terrorist attack. India announced its boycott of the summit due to Pakistan’s involvement in the attack. Acknowledging the gravity of Pakistani misdeeds and the way Pakistan had exported the ISIS-KP’’s Islamic agenda on their respective soils, later Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Maldives also pulled out of the summit.
It was yet another slap on its face by regional stakeholders.
Islamization of SAARC and the only solution it knows: Glorification of Hatred
Like Kindergarten boy politics, Pakistan’s answer to criticism of its Terror politics, is assembling its Band of Cronies. Its experiments in Afghanistan, of having pro-Pakistan Taliban governments, or to get China, Malaysia, and Turkey on its side when it decides to cry hoarse, is the only manner of expressing its unfounded and misplaced fears.
In 2016, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed of Pakistan, considered close to Pakistan Army, in one of his interactions with the media said “A greater South Asia is already emerging, this greater South Asia includes China, Iran and the neighbouring Central Asian republics”.
However, speaking the Beijing tenor, he associates this proposed cooperation with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, as a key economic route linking South Asia with Central Asia. Shockingly he then starts selling Gwadar port, as a would be the nearest warm water port, supposedly not only for China but also for the land locked Central Asian states.
Not surprisingly, finding it geo politically perplexing, if not too self-indulgent, it got nil response, from not only SAARC countries, but from all the Central Asian republics, including Iran. Pakistan was caught bleary eyed when asked to support India on the India-Iran International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) instead.
India stands Tall
With the world captive to COVID-19 turmoil, Indian Government was the first to act decisively, in imposing lockdown, mobilising its assets in a coherent manner, without flutter and frills.
As world watched, India gave direction to the South Asian leadership against COVID-19. This was correct appropriation, given the rapid mass mobilisation, precautionary measures and brave mass evacuations that India carried out. Unlike China, this posited India as a pre-emptive, responsible, trusted leadership in the world arena, which resulted in natural automaticity of her role in the region.
Pakistan’s lack of support on COVID-19 initiatives of South Asia and SAARC, and linking it with Kashmir since March, is not only indicative of Imran’s listless leadership, but also the self-serving realities of Pakistan Army controlled establishment. Pakistan has been found to be only interested in appeasing and toeing China, leaving its citizens in Peril. While the heavily censored media and the recent Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020, has information coming out in form of news by state censored press releases only, reports are there of inhuman COVID camps in Baluchistan, Sind, occupied Kashmir and the Pakhtunwa.
Pakistan had skipped a video conference of senior trade officials of the SAARC, saying it chose not to participate since the SAARC secretariat wasn’t involved in organising it. That is as callous as has been the case with Pakistan ever since.
While SAARC is progressing, fighting COVID-19 in unison without regard for one-upmanship, Pakistan finds itself on the fringes. Interestingly, SAARC members except Pakistan, find its absence as irrelevant.
Though India’s minor relief package of $10 million is not the focal point of the engagement, it is the exchange of manner of urgent cringe and fightback against the deadly disease, which is necessary in long term. Medical research, movement and containment, including long term mitigation, makes SAARC initiative, a very relevant necessity for the region. It is one of its kind, not only in the region, but in its success, be a case as a potent regionally synchronized hyperjerk, for once, excluding China.
11 April 20/Saturday Written By: Fayaz