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China aims to create an alternative regional bloc in South Asia
Kathmandu Post, July 11, 2021 – China’s attempts to make inroads into South Asia continue.
The latest one is the establishment of the China-South Asian Countries Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Center in Chongqing City on Thursday.
Of the eight members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which is almost in a coma, five have joined the Beijing-led initiative. India, Bhutan and the Maldives are conspicuous by their absence.
Diplomats and security experts say that the initiative launched by Beijing, which is a minus India alliance created when the SAARC process is stalled, is to counter India and aims to build China’s inroads into the region and that it carries a significant underlying geostrategic meaning.

The call for SAARC’s revival for climate action
MoneyControl (India), Nov 4, 2022

Taliban vows to guarantee safety of trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline
Eurasianet, Feb 6, 2021 – A Taliban delegation has paid a surprise visit to Turkmenistan to pledge support for a planned natural gas pipeline across Afghanistan, providing welcome reassurance for a project whose viability has long been rendered doubtful by security concerns. Signs point to the trip having been brokered by the U.S. government, which has long championed what is known as TAPI, named after the four countries the pipeline would cross: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

SAARC: A defunct organization
Fancies European Union, but little motivation for transforming into such a ‘cohesive entity’
The Nation (Pakistan), March 8, 2019 – Regretfully, the achievements of the organization are far below its potential thus far. At the moment, it has been on the point of being defunct for several years….
Although a South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) came into force in 2006 but that was only limited to goods with no place for investments and services like information technology etc. It envisioned a duty free area between members by 2016, but nothing happened on the ground. If we had acted on Vision for SAARC (1998) there would have been a Customs Union by 2015 and an Economic Union by 2020. Majority of us fancy workings of the European Union but, strangely enough, when it comes to SAARC little motivation is found for transforming it into such a cohesive entity.
Sub-regionalism is superseding a stagnant SAARC
East Asia Forum (Australia), Feb 23, 2019 – India recently acknowledged the long-standing demands of Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan to remove non-tariff barriers to trade and liberalise the energy sector. The three countries of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) initiative have tremendous hydropower potential waiting to be harnessed by an energy-starved India. New guidelines will allow cross-border trade in energy through multi-country public-private partnerships and the creation of a robust regional power market.
While India continues to outflank Islamabad by investing in sub-regional initiatives like the BBIN and BIMSTEC, Pakistan is similarly looking beyond the SAARC for regional camaraderie with China.

BLOC HEADS (2013) Part 4 of 10: SAARC (S Asia), Arab League 10:49

SAARC is Common Vehicle for Peace and Prosperity in SA: Ex Nepal PM – TelegraphNepal, Nov. 10, 2011 “SAARC is all about regional integration — economically, culturally, and socially….It is about eventually an economic union, with a common market and common currency.” Madhav Kumar Nepal, Former Prime Minister of Nepal, Nov. 7, 2011

Quader for borderless connectivity among BBIN
‘We Have to Demolish Borders’
The Daily Star (Bangladesh), Nov 30, 2015 – Road, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader today batted for “borderless connectivity” with Bhutan, India and Nepal to “achieve fruit of the transport corridor” among these nations. “We have to demolish borders and remove suspicions,” he told a seminar in Dhaka…. The landmark BBIN deal was signed between the four countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal – in June this year.

SAARC Needs To Unleash Collective Strength, Says Sushma Swaraj
‘If we are to achieve a South Asian Economic Union’
NDTV (New Delhi, India), March 17, 2016 – India today pitched for unleashing the “collective strength” of SAARC as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj underlined the need for a South Asian Economic Union with greater connectivity and forward movement on pending agreements on rail and motor vehicles…. “We have taken some important decisions to integrate our economies through SAFTA and South Asian Trade in Services Agreement. These need to be developed and consolidated further if we are to achieve a South Asian Economic Union,” she said in her address at the 37th SAARC Council of Ministers meeting in Pokhara…. The SAARC comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

SAARC nations should create common court to tackle terrorism: SC judge
The Tribune (Chandigarh, India), March 11, 2016 – United Nations, March 11: A Supreme Court Judge from India has suggested the creation of a “common court” for SAARC countries that comprises judges from each nation who can share their knowledge and tackle cross-border terrorism cases…. The UN event brought Supreme Court justices from across the world together for the first time to discuss how terrorism cases are handled in their respective countries.

SAARC to create economic union
saarc-mapThe Statesman (India), Aug 20, 2015 – The finance ministers of SAARC nations on Thursday decided to create an economic union for economic integration in the region…. It also discussed harmonisation of customs procedures and documentation, harmonisation of standards of identified products, finalisation of Schedules of Specific Commitments under SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services, regional connectivity, according to a statement issued here after the meeting…. Finance ministers and high-level delegates from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka participated in the meeting.
SAARC Finance Ministers Discuss Closer Cooperation Meet in Nepal
NDTV (New Delhi, India), Aug 21, 2015 – Finance Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) including from India gathered to discuss closer economic cooperation in the region, including connectivity…. “We believe that the vision of South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) is relevant and can be achieved in a phased manner within a reasonable period of time with an inbuilt provision for sharing benefits equitably among its member countries,”….

‘China should become part of SAARC structure’
The Hindu (India), March 9, 2016 – Globalisation is putting pressure on the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to change its traditional ways of working, according to Imtiaz Ahmed, Executive Director of the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS), a 23-year-old South Asian regional think tank. “The way globalisation is working, whether you like it or not, the borders are not the same they used to be. Now, it is almost impossible to keep your business within your borders….
The message behind the trend of globalisation is that the region has to include China, which, he called, has now become a “South Asian country” for all practical purposes.

Mythic link to Lanka may become a reality
ADB, World Bank to be roped in for $12b project
Largest project in developing trans-Saarc road, transport network
Financial Chronicle (India), Oct 3, 2015 – In keeping with improving equations with the emerald islands to her south, India will shortly commence negotiations with Sri Lanka to build a road-cum-rail sea-link between Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu and Talaimannar in minority Tamil-dominated northern Sri Lanka with an investment of $12 billion…. The rail and road sea-link will also have the provision for movement of ships in the region. This project is being billed as the largest in developing trans-Saarc road and transport network.

SAARC countries urged to follow EU-ASEAN model  – Pakistan Observer, August 10, 2012 – Senate Chairman Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari on Thursday urged the SAARC countries to follow the EU and ASEAN model for strong economic and trade relations as the world was moving towards regionalism.

The Most Important Regional Organization That Nobody Has Heard Of – Huffington Post, May 12, 2014 – As SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] seeks greater integration–they hope to create an economic union and common currency by 2020 — they would do well to look east to ASEAN, which was similarly derided as a talk shop not long ago and has since progressed towards an increasingly effective model of regional cooperation…. ASEAN may demonstrate, as it bands together to push back against China’s aggression in the South China Sea, that “a bundle of sticks cannot be broken.” SAARC would do well to understand the same thing.

Two-speed regionalism
Agreement between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal marks a new sub-regional framework.

Indian Express, June 24, 2015 – It is beyond doubt that the pace of the Saarc caravan has been set by the slowest camel, Pakistan…. Instead of agonising over the failures of the Saarc, Delhi has recognised that two-speed regionalism is quite common around the world. For example, Britain, Denmark and Sweden are among the members of the European Union that have not adopted the euro as their currency. Many in Britain, of course, want London to exit from the European Union…. It is, indeed, Pakistan’s sovereign prerogative to choose the pace and direction of its regionalism.

A major Saarc push – Deccan Herald (India), June 20, 2015 – This major initiative between sub-grouping of four Saarc nations, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) is expected to pave the way for a seamless movement of people and goods across their borders for the benefit and integration of the region, thereby galvanising economic development in South Asia at large…. After Pakistan’s obstructionist stance could not be cleared, India decided to tap its eastern neighbours and the framework of the new agreement was finalised in a meeting of the transport secretaries of the four countries at the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) …. If Pakistan persists in its obstructionist agenda, New Delhi is signalling it would find itself marginalised in the larger South Asian dynamic.

Economic bloc: SAARC working on single currency – Express Tribune (with the International New York Times), April 16, 2015 – Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik has expressed the resolve that the chamber will continue to pursue its mission to boost trade among Saarc member states. “Efforts are also under way to launch a common currency for the Saarc bloc on the model of the single European Union currency,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Saarc nations should go for economic union
Greater integration to bring dynamism in South Asian economy, Saarc central bank governors’ conference told
The Daily Star (Bangladesh), June 13, 2015 – The Saarc countries should shift towards integration from cooperation in order to make South Asian Economic Union a reality, said a top Saarc Secretariat official yesterday. Lakshmanan Savithri, director of Kathmandu-based Saarc Secretariat,…. said the 18th Saarc Summit, which was held in Kathmandu in November last year, clearly stated that South Asian Economic Union should be achieved in a phased manner through a free trade area, a customs union, a common market and a common economic and monetary union.

Is Modi’s idea for SAARC going to be the future for South Asia?  – China Post, Sept 6, 2014 – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aim to integrate the SAARC (South Asian Nations for Regional Cooperation) members is most likely his top priority foreign policy goal…. But the goal of upgrading SAARC into a South Asian Union (SAU) can be dramatically hastened…. LTTE in Sri Lanka, Maoists and Pakistani infiltrators in Nepal, Islamist terrorists in Pakistan and Bangladesh, are all preventing South Asian integration. This is not an accident. It is through the design of hostile foreign forces interested to keep South Asia divided. India can frustrate these hostile forces by starting with Nepal.

Now travel to SAARC countries with a single permit  – India Today, Sept 6, 2014 – The SAARC nations are mulling a single permit system for the regional block to facilitate easy movement of goods and people, and are likely to finalise a draft terms and conditions soon, a report said on Saturday.

SAARC to fast-track development of regional bank: Nepal – Jagran Post (India), Aug 4, 2014 – South Asian countries, including India and Nepal, would fast-track the process of setting up of the SAARC Development Bank to garner funds for development of infrastructure in the region. The decision regarding the bank comes close on the heels of BRICS leaders formalising the framework for the BRICS Development Bank.

South Asia: calling for collective regional development
South Asia Development Bank
Business Recorder (Pakistan), July 28, 2014 – The Indian Prime Minister has been signalling an urge to improving economic ties in South Asia, first with the invitation to leaders from neighbouring countries at his oath-taking ceremony and now with the news to set up a South Asia Development Bank…. Reportedly, India is to pitch the proposal for a South Asia Development Bank at SAARC’s ministerial council in Bhutan this month, in line with the recent signing in of the New Development Bank of BRICS. The regional bank will provide financing for infrastructure development to facilitate regional integration and trade.

Nepal seeks to host Saarc Bank HQ  – Kantipur (Nepal), Aug 6, 2014 – Nepal has expressed its desire to host the headquarters of the Saarc Bank proposed by India during the eighth meeting of the South Asia Free Trade Area (Safta) Ministerial Council held on July 23-24 in Thimphu.

Regional grouping: Visa-on-arrival facility proposed for SAARC – Express Tribune (Pakistan), Aug 6, 2014 – “Free movement of business persons in the region is crucial and multiple-entry visa policy must be adopted on a reciprocal basis,” Saarc CCI Pakistan delegation leader Iftikhar Ali Malik said as he addressed the concluding session of a special meeting of SCCI. He said that in prevailing global economic scenario, India and Pakistan, the two most powerful members of Saarc, should enter a suitable trade regime.

Saarc countries planning to set up common power grid  – Financial Express (India), Sept 12, 2014 – A South Asian regional grid will be on top of the agenda when the energy ministers from member countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meet next month…. The proposed cross country grid is being envisaged for harnessing each SAARC nation’s capacities and resources to address growing energy needs in the region.

Bangladesh, India strike electricity corridor deal
Pact would enable India to transmit hydropower into Bihar state via Bangladeshi territory. In exchange, Bangladesh would benefit from daily supplies of Indian electricity.
Khabar South Asia (sponsored by the US Pacific Command), May 10, 2014 – The network ultimately would connect two other South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) members– Nepal and Bhutan– opening up hydroelectricity generation in the region, officials said.

India blocks China entry into Saarc  – TheTelegraph (Calcutta, India), March 20, 2014 – India has blocked a fresh thrust by China to join the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, a grouping New Delhi dominates, arguing that the alliance first needs to clarify its objectives in strengthening ties with new partners. The foreign ministry has communicated to all other member states of the Saarc —Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — that it is uncomfortable with any expansion of the alliance at present, senior officials confirmed to The Telegraph.

Prime Minister’s vision for Saarc – Business Recorder (Pakistan), November 11, 2012 – And there is talk of facilitating visas for business people of the two countries coupled with the momentous decision by both the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to allow two banks each from both the countries to begin full banking operations across the border. In short, the two countries are on a path towards enhanced economic co-operation.

Saarc Moves Ahead for Economic Union – The Daily Star (Bangladesh), Jan. 31, 2012 – The objective of the Saarc finance ministers’ forum was to establish a full economic union. The Saarc finance ministers discussed many issues that include coordination in fiscal and monetary policies, joint monitoring of exchange rates and commodity prices and an increase in intraregional trade.

Saarc Finance Ministers Meet in Dhaka Monday – The Daily Star (Bangladesh), Jan. 28, 2012 – Finance ministers from the Saarc nations will meet in Dhaka on Monday to further expand regional cooperation in economic and financial sectors.The daylong meeting also aims at setting out the benchmarks to establish a customs union and leading subsequently towards an economic union; and ensuring greater integration, harmonisation and standardisation of the financial systems….They will outline priority steps to be taken at each implementation phase of South Asian Economic Union ….The Saarc, mooted in Dhaka in 1985, is comprised of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

India allows FDI from Pakistan – Daily News & Analysis, August 1, 2012 – In a major decision, India on Wednesday allowed investment from Pakistan paving way for Islamabad to normalise bilateral economic ties by implementing much-delayed Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for New Delhi.

SAARC to Act Positively for Lion’s Share of Global Business – Daily Times (Pakistan), Jan. 8, 2012 –  Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Senator Haji Ghulam Ali] said the world has realised the importance of regional trade and SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] and Asian blocks should try to do trade in one currency with one visa.

Kalam Hopes to See an Integrated South Asian Region – The Hindu, July 5, 2012 – The former President, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam has hoped that despite rivalry between the two nuclear nations, South Asia emerges as an integrated region on the lines of European Union in next 10 years. “I think South Asia will emerge as an integrated region in next 10 years discarding their rivalry following footsteps of the EU and ASEAN nations,” the visiting nuclear scientist and former president of India, said at a news briefing on Thursday.

Unwanted Then, He Gets the Red Carpet Now – The Hindu, July 6, 2012 – Less than a decade ago, the Indian government had declared him persona non grata and given him 48 hours to leave the country. He was Pakistan’s senior-most diplomat in New Delhi then. Two days ago, when Jalil Abbas Jilani arrived back in the Indian capital, this time as the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, that nasty episode in India-Pakistan relations was a dim memory on the red carpet that was rolled out for him.

Pak-India Need Bold Measures to Activate SAARC: Seminar – Daily Times (Pakistan), Dec. 11, 2011 – [Rahmatullah Javed, the former secretary general SAARC chamber] said if Germany, France and other countries even after fighting against one another in the Second World War could come close in exemplary ties in the form of European Union, why not Pakistan and India who lived with one and other for 800 years before separation of Subcontinent. UMT Rector Dr Hassan Sohaib Murad said Pakistan and India need to learn lesson from other regional blocks and associations like European Union, NAFTA, ASEAN, GCC (Gulf Cooperative Council) and ECO (Economic Cooperation Organisation) etc.

The ‘Great Game’ of Influence in Afghanistan Continues But with Different Players – Fox News, June 10, 2012 – The US has, what it describes as a “New Silk Road” strategy that involves attempting to improve trade ties between the countries of central Asia and the Indian sub-continent. The aim of it is to bring economic prosperity to the region and hopefully that will undermine the extremists. The US is also promoting the benefits of the TAPI pipeline project that would bring natural gas from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to markets in Pakistan and India.
[This is a vague, misleading description of the real objective: the integration of Afghanistan into the geopolitical region-building of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) that is comprised of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.]

The Silk Road Through Afghanistan – Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations), Dec 5, 2013 – Afghanistan’s neighbors stand to benefit from expanded regional linkages — and many of them have already begun to take steps toward achieving the new Silk Road vision. Last year, Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to harmonize customs arrangements, institute international standards at crossing points, work to reduce smuggling, and increase government revenues from legitimate trade. In late September, the commerce ministers of India and Pakistan pledged to normalize their countries’ bilateral trade relationship — a milestone, given the more than half century of enmity that exists between these two nations.

NEW SILK ROAD: STABILIZING AFGHANISTAN POST-2014 – Open Democracy, May 29, 2012 – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced the ‘New Silk Route’ initiative with her counterpart, the Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul. This New Silk Road would once again create trade routes  between Asia and the West, facilitated by the establishment of modern highways, rail links and energy pipelines. Certainly, such an initiative is part of the wider transition program envisioned by the US, which has already shifted its focus from stabilisation projects to investment in Afghanistan. It is also arguably a process intended on assisting the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, by creating a viable environment ultimately giving way to “spurring growth, and integrating Afghanistan into the economy of South and Central Asia.”

‘TAPI GAS PIPELINE TO FOSTER REGIONAL COOPERATION’ – Daily Times (Pakistan), May 22, 2012 – The Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) pipeline offers benefit to all four participating countries and has the potential to enhance regional cooperation, said SAARC  Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) President Vikramjit Sahney…

THE CLASH OF EURASIAN GRAND STRATEGIES – The National Interest, May 1, 2012 – While the United States is clearly eager for the entire region to be developed, later Clinton highlighted one of the U.S. key rationales for this approach: “An Afghanistan firmly embedded in the economic life of a thriving South and Central Asia would be better able to attract new sources of foreign investment, connect to markets abroad and provide people with credible alternatives to insurgency.” In other words, it is a strategy focused on tying Afghanistan economically into its neighborhood, which will help facilitate American withdrawal.
Specifically, the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan is to integrate the country firmly into the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
, as the following Eurasian Review article from December further illustrates:

WHAT CAN SAARC OFFER TO AFGHANISTAN?Analysis – Eurasian Review, Dec. 12, 2011 (Google Link) – It has already been five years since Afghanistan joined the SAARC but it has still not been possible to chart out concrete ways to help the country come out of the shackles of civil war….Following the American withdrawal, an idea of a South Asian peacekeeping contingent can also be mulled over but only after a certain degree of stability has been established and after receiving the mandate from the UN.

Strategic Implications of Trade With India – PKKH (Pakistan), June 8, 2012 – If SAARC is regionalized as envisaged, India – geographic center of the SAARC- will be a natural hegemon in the region along with its mighty economic power….Though very difficult in WTO era, Pakistan must seek to augment its industrial base before being directly exposed to massive Indian economy but the triumph card will be the transit route to Central Asia. While Indian investment in Afghanistan is a strategic move to counter this maneuvering, Pakistan should link this transit route opening to resolution of all outstanding issues like Kashmir…

‘Afghanistan can be rebuilt by making it trade, energy hub’  – India Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed, Business Standard (India), June 17, 2012 – I believe that India’s active presence in the region will contribute to stability and development in the entire Central and South Asia region. In this analysis, we must factor in the regional situation and especially the challenge of rebuilding the Afghan nation. A cooperative approach for embedding Afghanistan into a more meaningful regional economic and security framework, would have benefits for the entire region. One way is to work towards converting Afghanistan into a hub for trade and energy, connecting Central and South Asia…

‘S Asian integration can be achieved through trade facilitation’ – Daily Times (Pakistan), June 15, 2012 – The true potential of South Asian integration can only be achieved by making trade facilitation, easing visas restrictions, simplifying customs and standard procedures besides improving connectivity through rail, road and direct flights…World Bank for South Asia Senior Operations Officer Diep Nguyen–Van Houtte told journalists…on Thursday.

INDIA’S PRESCRIPTION TO IMPROVE TRADE WITH AFGHANISTAN – Rediff Business (India), May 10, 2012 – Vikramjit Singh Sahney, President, SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry….mentioned that the key constraints for bilateral economic cooperation are difficult law and order situation, the lack of trade infrastructure, non-availability of skilled man power in Afghanistan. “We are committed to work jointly with you for improving this scenario” he declared. Sahney urged Afghanistan to engage more actively in the SAARC and SAFTA process to enable the country to take its rightful place in the region.
[This region building is the real purpose for U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan.]

DELIVERING ON THE OBJECTIVES OF THE AFGHANISTAN CONFERENCES – Diplomatic Courier, May 14, 2012 – And for the long-term institutionalization of peace and governance in Afghanistan, they extended their full support for transition to the Afghan responsibility under the holistic, “whole of government” approach of the “Kabul Process.” In effect, they identified and committed to utilization of the “Kabul Process” as a coordination mechanism through which to implement their commitments….Those regional mechanisms, most of which remain under-utilized due to a lack of political will, include the Organization for Islamic Countries, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

Pakistan: Senate body for stronger ties with South, Central Asia – Daily Times (Pakistan), June 21, 2012 – During the two-days deliberations, the committee thoroughly discussed Pakistan’s relations with Central Asian states, SAARC and OIC countries….“South and Central Asian region is most important for us,” the members observed. The committee stressed upon the Foreign Ministry to focus attention on the region and further consolidate the ties to have a say in the regional affairs.

World Bank to restructure trade corridor programme
– Express Tribune (Pakistan), June 14, 2012 – As efforts to integrate the South Asian region gain momentum, the World Bank is reviving and restructuring the ‘dead’ National Trade Corridor programme aimed at reducing cost of trade and improving logistics infrastructure between Pakistan and regional peers…..According to Salman Zaheer, the WB’s Programme Director for Regional Integration, the WB has embarked on a challenging programme of connecting Pakistan with Central Asia and further to Far East Asia. It was also working to connect Pakistan and India by simplifying border procedures and improving road and rail networks.

An idea whose time is long overdue – Kuensel (Bhutan), May 24, 2012 – Saman Fernando, an electrical engineer from the  SAARC energy centre, said the main idea was to have some kind of an energy ring among SAARC nations, so that energy can be exported from a surplus country to a deficient country. “This will ensure energy security in the region,” he said.

Power play in South Asia to energise India’s hold among Saarc countries  – Financial Express (India), Oct 14, 2013 – After finding favour with energy resource-rich countries such as Nepal and Bhutan, India’s proposal for a common power market in South Asia is now gaining traction with power-deficit countries of the region like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan….A smooth take-off of NTPC project is expected to give an impetus to Powergrid’s plan to lay an under-sea power transmission line between India and Sri Lanka, according to industry experts.

Bid time for importing power from India extended – Financial Express (Bangladesh), June 6, 2012 – Officials said the electricity from India will help ease Bangladesh’s electricity crisis….It will also help establish a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) electricity grid. Currently India has a power link with Bhutan.

Nepal: Through Himalayan Looking Glass, 21st Century World Order  – TelegraphNepal, June 28, 2013 – The only way for India to counter this force is to settle the Kashmir problem, first and foremost, to the satisfaction of Pakistan and then move the SAARC agenda forward towards an Economic Union of South Asia…. This may involve free movement of peoples across borders, without visas, to all countries for employment and social reunion and interface that will set the foundations for an eventual Confederation of South Asian Nations (CSAN).

BANGLADESH EYES $400MILLION LOAN FROM INDIAN CENTRAL BANK – Reuters|Dawn (Pakistan), May 21, 2012 – Bangladesh is likely to borrow $400 million from the Reserve Bank of India to ease balance of payment problems, the Governor of Bangladesh central bank, Atiur Rahman, said on Monday. The RBI recently created the $2 billion fund for countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Let’s tap into TAPI! – Pakistan Today, October 12, 2012 – Pakistan can resolve its energy crisis by expediting work on The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline Project, Ambassador of Turkmenistan to Pakistan Atadjan Movlamov said Thursday.

The New Silk Road Strategy – Pakistan Today, October 1, 2012 – New Delhi has invested in the new 2000-kilometer pipeline which would cost around $7.6 billion and bring 70 billion cubic meters of gas from Daulatabad gas fields of Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan. The agreements between Pakistan and India and other SAARC countries have confirmed the new economic integration.

The true spirit of SAARC– Pakistan Observer, March 17, 2012 – The joint venture of the SAARC and the European Union regarding the peace and prosperity of the South Asian region shall benefit millions of people of South Asia whose lives have become hell at the hands of terrorists and their benefactors….The role of the SAARC is concerned; it must be same as that of the European Union. The European Union has very successfully brought most of the European countries under one flag; and this organization now acts as a custodian of the common interests of the whole European region.

CAN SAARC BE SOUTH ASIA’S EU? – The Diplomat (Tokyo), March 20, 2012 – A concept paper from the ICWA argued that the real test for SAARC now is to benefit from the process of globalization through deeper regional integration, including eventually creating a South Asian economic union. To achieve this goal, a deliberate shift from “independence” to “interdependence” is needed…

Eurozone events should not deter South Asian union, says PM – New York Daily News, June 29, 2012 – “The events in the eurozone should not cast a shadow over our own efforts at building unity and eventually a South Asian union….The economic and political rise of post-War Europe was in no small measure due to the vision of thinkers like George Marshall and Jean Monnet. They believed that a stable, prosperous and united Europe was good for the world. That is as true today as it was then. I sincerely hope that the leaders of Europe will find in them the imagination and wisdom to preserve the European project that has served as a guiding light to regional cooperation elsewhere in the world, including South Asia,” [India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Friday].

DHIYANA CALLS FOR LAW TO ABOLISH POLITICAL PARTIES – Haveeru Online (Maldives), March 22, 2012  – Former SAARC Secretary General and Former Attorney General Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed has said that action needed to be taken against Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members for the repeated criminal offences….She said that the 47 member council of Europe had drafted a guideline to eliminate political parties and according to the draft, parties can be eliminated on certain grounds. “Hence, getting rid of such a party is a democratic process…”

Saarc states urged to frame joint security architecture – Business Recorder (Pakistan), November 2, 2012 – The former Bangladeshi foreign secretary further suggested that there should be joint peacekeeping operation and the armed forces of the regional countries to conduct joint military exercises. South Asia being the most vulnerable to natural calamities, he proposed that there should also be a joint disaster management plan to respond the calamities collectively.

SAARC meet on measurement begins – Bangladesh News 24, March 13, 2012 – A coordination meeting on regional cooperation began on Tuesday with an aim to adopt a uniform measurement system, aligned with the global standards, for all member SAARC countries.

US presses Pakistan to allow transit facility to Indian goods for Afghanistan– Pakistan Observer, Feb. 28, 2012 – The strengthening of Indian influence in Afghanistan would inflict huge loss not only to Pakistanis economic interests but would also endanger Pakistan’s western border…. Under SAFTA (South Asia Free Trade Agreement), Pakistan committed a big mistake during Musharraf regime by including Afghanistan in the SAARC family and under SAFTA, every country will be given the transit facility.

The connectivity conundrum in Bangladesh  – The Hindu, Feb. 19, 2012 – “We are ready to send and receive cargo from Bhutan, India and Nepal,” Mangla Port Chairman Commodore M.A.K. Azad told visiting journalists….marking a major turn in ties among the four SAARC members. Close by, another symbol of SAARC cooperation — a thermal plant to be jointly built by Bangladesh and India — is taking shape.

Better Indo-Pakistan ties augurs well for South Asia – The Financial Express (Bangladesh), Dec. 8, 2011 – Some people often seek to compare the South Asian regional forum SAARC with the South East Asian forum ASEAN and the European Union and jump to the conclusion that the SAARC has largely failed while the others have flourished. Drawing such an analogy is somewhat irrational since the background and political milieu of the regions are vastly different.

Addu Summit — A turning point for Saarc? – The International News, Nov. 22, 2011 – The Saarc Summit held at Addu, Maldives on 11th of this month, witnessed a different aura all together….This was a big change from the previous ones that every time offered diplomatic opportunities to both India and Pakistan to talk out their grievance but for huge trust deficit, they never really took off.

India minister says ties with Pakistan improving – AFP, Nov. 9, 2011 – “The trust deficit with Pakistan is shrinking,” S.M. Krishna said on board his flight to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in the Maldives.

SAARC CCI hails Pakistan-India ministerial talks – Daily Times (Pakistan) September 30, 2011 – Tariq Sayeed, immediate former President, SAARC CCI said….that it was the high time that both the nations need to burry their political differences and exhibit greater political will to transform South Asia into a vibrant region by following the example of Germany and France in EU.

Pak team moots visa-free system in Saarc nations – The Times of India, September 23, 2011 – [Nasir Aslam Zahid, former justice of Pakistan Supreme Court] said, “By removing visa restrictions and adopting measures like common currency, European countries allowed people to interact and prosper…..Similar measures can be taken here also by having better connectivity and communication among the SAARC countries.”

India urged for changes in trade laws to reduce trust deficit – The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC-CCI), Aman Ki Asha (AKA) and the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) are playing a vital role in promotion of bilateral relations. This consensus was developed in the Jang Economic Session on “Progress in Pakistan-India Trade Relations — Way Forward” here on Wednesday.

Visa issue a major hurdle in pushing industry ties – Times of India, April 23, 2012 – The rapid progress in normalizing trade relations between India and Pakistan has spurred hopes for a jump in business between the two countries….”The main issue now is visas for business travel. This is important for business to business contact,” said Vikramjit Sahney, president of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, adding that more steps need to be implemented to upgrade border infrastructure.

India, Pakistan boost trade ties – Asia Times, April 26, 2012 – Commerce Minister Sharma has mentioned favorably a proposal for a South Asia-wide power grid for sharing electricity. This would further boost trade in what is the least-integrated region in the world in intra-regional terms: trade among the members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC…) accounts for less than 5% of their total international trade. By contrast, that percentage is over five times greater among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations…

Thar coal reserves – The Nation (Pakistan), May 3, 2012 – During a Saarc Conference, speakers pointed out that Pakistan’s Thar coal reserves were sufficient to cater to the region’s need for electricity for 100 years….Initial estimates indicate that the Thar reserves have greater potential for generating electricity than the Middle East oil reserves.

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