Countries in South Asia should take steps to resist terrorism that poses a challenge to prosperity and peace in the region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said in a letter to the Secretariat of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Kathmandu.
“SAARC has made progress, but more needs to be done. Our efforts at greater collaboration have repeatedly been challenged with threats and acts of terrorism. Such an environment impedes our shared objective of realising the full potential of SAARC. It is critical that all countries in the region take effective steps to defeat terrorism and the forces that support it,” he said in the letter written on the occasion of the 35th Charter Day.
SAARC was set up on December 8, 1985, in Dhaka during the first summit of the organisation. Ever since its beginning, the organisation has faced difficulties, mainly because of India-Pakistan hostilities. The regional body, which is headed by the secretariat, has failed to hold its annual summit after the November 2016 summit in Islamabad was cancelled following the terror attacks on the Pathankot airbase and the military hub in Uri.
The latest meeting of the SAARC Foreign Ministers took place in New York on September 26, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, when Indian and Pakistan Ministers S. Jaishankar and Shah Mahmood Qureshi delivered speeches separately.
The problems were most recently highlighted by Dr. Jaishankar, who pointed at the lack of optimism about Pakistan and argued that India’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy was not meant for Pakistan. He had indirectly held Pakistan responsible for the stalemate at SAARC.
Mr. Modi’s comments come amid speculation on an informal summit of SAARC leaders . It is felt that an informal summit is the way to end the stalemate.