Sunday, July 21, 2024

What is the future of SAARC?

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The visionary of SAARC is President Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh but he could not see the establishment of SAARC in his lifetime

The British rulers defeated Sirajuddaula in the Battle of Palashi in 1757 and started their rule in India through Bengal, but it took a hundred years to bring the whole of India under their control. During British rule, citizens of integral India could move from one region of India to another without any hindrance or hindrance. The region was partially or fully ruled by Muslim rulers for about six hundred years before the arrival of the British. These Muslim rulers came to this region from different regions outside India. When India was under Muslim rule, there were no restrictions on the movement of people from one place to another. Before the British and Muslim rule in India, the region was ruled by Hindu and Buddhist kings; However, during their reign, no single king was able to expand the empire over the entire region.

When the British left India in 1947, they undermined the integrity of India and established three independent states in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka by giving independence to the regions inhabited by Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist populations. Some time after the withdrawal of the British from India, restrictions were imposed on the travel of citizens of one independent state to another, and these restrictions resulted in the requirement of visas for citizens of one state in the region to travel to another state, which continues.

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In 1985, during the official launch of SAARC, the seven countries of the Indian subcontinent namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives were included. Later in 2007, Afghanistan joined SAARC. Sri Lanka and Maldives are two island states among the eight SAARC countries. On the other hand, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan are three landlocked countries.

The visionary of SAARC is President Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh but he could not see the establishment of SAARC in his lifetime. As a statesman, Ziaur Rahman was a visionary and after assuming power, he realized that the unprecedented development that other regions of the world have achieved by increasing regional communication and cooperation, similar development is possible in our region if communication and cooperation between the states of the region are increased to the desired level. can go

Among the regions of the world which have achieved prosperity by joining regional alliances are Utt, Ajhu Agh, Eee etc. Citizens of these three regional alliance countries do not need any kind of visa if they want to travel from one country to another within the alliance. Citizens of these regions can move from one country to another country by road, rail, sea or air without hindrance within their respective regions. Even a citizen of these regions can travel from one country to another with a private car. These regional alliances give more importance to regional trade for the development of their respective regions and the growth of regional trade has accelerated the development of these regions.

The main objective of establishing SAARC was to make the region one of the most prosperous regions of the world by increasing regional communication and cooperation. But almost 39 years have passed after the establishment of SAARC, it is observed that there is still a long way to go to achieve that goal.

Among the SAARC countries, India is the largest in terms of area and population. Pakistan is next to India. Before the establishment of SAARC, India and Pakistan fought three all-out wars. Bangladesh state was born after the last war between India and Pakistan in 1971.

More than one-fourth of the world’s total population lives in the SAARC region. Considering population density, this region is the most populated region in the world. In recent times, the states of the region have made unprecedented progress in agriculture. Although the industrial development of this region is promising, there is a need to utilize the potential of further development in this direction. The extent of regional trade among SAARC countries is still limited. If this scope is expanded, SAARC countries will be able to achieve unprecedented development within their own boundaries.

After the establishment of SAARC, however, it was hoped that citizens of one country would be able to travel visa-free to another country and that one country would provide transit facilities as needed, including travel from one country to another by private vehicle; But that goal has not yet been achieved. And the prospect of optimism that can be achieved in the near future is not very bright.

Among the SAARC states, Nepal and Bhutan are surrounded by India on the east, west and south. Although these two states are surrounded by China on the north, the entire border on that side consists of inaccessible mountain passes. So communication in that direction is quite impenetrable. Nepal and Bhutan are completely dependent on India for foreign trade. These two countries have been demanding for a long time to provide transit facilities through India through the two sea ports of Chittagong and Mongla of Bangladesh within the regional structure of SAARC, but the slow pace of implementation is tarnishing the spirit of SAARC.

Seven states in the eastern part of India are called Seven Sisters. As these seven states are surrounded on all four sides by the landmasses of other states, these seven states maintain communication with the Indian mainland through a narrow passage called the Chicken Neck Corridor. Communication through this route is time consuming and expensive. India is interested in establishing road, rail and sea transit with these seven states through Bangladesh. Although the transit by water is available, it is not fruitful throughout the year due to the navigability of the river at various places. On the other hand, Bangladesh has not yet developed the necessary infrastructure for road and rail transit.

54 identical rivers flow through India and flow into the Bay of Bengal through Bangladesh. India unilaterally withdraws water from most of these rivers upstream and uses it to protect the navigability of inland rivers including hydropower generation and agricultural irrigation. Bangladesh is facing adverse situation due to India’s unilateral water withdrawal and the spirit of SAARC never allows creation of hostile environment by one neighboring country for another.

As other SAARC countries are small compared to India, India has always shown great vassalism towards other SAARC countries, disregarding and ignoring the spirit of SAARC. Due to this behavior of India, SAARC is failing to reach its goals on the one hand, and on the other hand, the political stability of other SAARC countries is also in danger.

Although India has road and rail connections with Bangladesh and Pakistan, trade is conducted through transshipment as there is no transit facility. Communication is not very easy for the citizens of these three countries because visa is required for communication. As easy as it is for an Indian citizen to travel to these two countries by taking a visa to Bangladesh and Pakistan, it is not as easy to travel to that country by taking a visa to India for the citizens of these two countries. At present the trade of Nepal and Bhutan with Bangladesh is settled through transshipment in the absence of transit. Due to this, the cost of import and export of both the states is increasing.

At present regional communication includes not only road, rail, sea and air communication. Apart from this, gas, electricity and oil are supplied through one country to another country, one country’s currency is exchangeable for another country or common currency is in place between allied countries, and citizens of allied countries can easily talk to citizens of other countries using the same SIM card at low cost. .

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