When Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to boycott the 19th SAARC summit to be held in Islamabad, was a reaction understood in the wake of the September 18 terrorist attack at Uri. But when other SAARC members, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka too pulled out, it showed the strong solid standing and goodwill India enjoys and the ill will they harbour against Pakistan.

Pakistan hopes that the new nation alliance will give it more say and a bigger room to exercise its own influence if there is any.

Diplomatic observers in Washington are of the view that the proposed deal suits China more as it is concerned with the clout India is enjoying with its rapidly growing influence in the region.

Bangladesh will have not much benefit while Nepal and Sri Lanka have their geographical constraints in joining a land route far from their borders.

The only member that is likely to profit from SAARC – II is Afghanistan, which is technically a land-locked Central Asian nation.

Given the proximity that Afghanistan has with India is a no-brainer as Kabul will never want to let go a partnership that is lucrative to the interests of both.

India, Others Boycott SAARC Summit

The role of one member found prominence, albeit in a disapproving manner. The ghastly terror attack at Uri on September 18, another one in the vicious prolonged series, tested the patience of India as it hit back 10 days later and pulled out of the SAARC summit that was to be held in the capital of that very nation, on the verge of being declared a ‘terrorist state’. Other members followed suit and the summit turned out to be a damp squib. What an embarrassment!

According to Dawn, "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," said a senior diplomat, confirming reports that Pakistan is actively seeking a new regional arrangement."

India successfully used its influence to isolate Pakistan.

SAARC Post 9/11

The date was a defining one as the world, and the United States woke up to the menace of terrorism that had bled India since 1970’s, but being dismissed on the global fora. With it, the role of Pakistan came under greater scrutiny.

Pakistan, the Global ET – Enfant Terrible

As late as October 12, Pakistan is squirming in agonising international isolation, trying its best to counter India’s diplomatic move by exploring the possibility of creating ‘A greater South Asian economic alliance’.

It is Pakistan’s India obsession that it believes that India controls the eight-member international body.

As reported by Dawn, a parliamentary delegation from Pakistan has been in New York on a five day visit where it pitched the idea of a greater alliance at Washington.

"A greater South Asia is already emerging," said Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, in one of his interactions with the media.

"This greater South Asia includes China, Iran and the neighbouring Central Asian republics." He described the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as the key economic route linking South Asia with Central Asia.

The Gwadar port, he said, would be the indomitable bridge to the nearest warm water port, not only for China but also for the land-locked Central Asian states.

"We want India to join this arrangement as well," said Hussain.

Pakistan’s Track Record And SAARC II

With a poor and shoddy track record in terms of human rights, persecution of minorities, Ahmedis, Shiites, Balochs, and Mohajirs, Pakistan is nowhere near to achieve a substantial image that is pre-requisite to initiate an assembly at the highest level. 

As pointed out by a South Asian diplomat, even if a greater South Asia became reality, there's no guarantee that its members would support Pakistan in its disputes with India."Many Central Asian states have strong ties with India and Iran too has problems with Pakistan," the diplomat said.

SAARC, A Precursor

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), was conceptualised right after India’s independence in 1947, and the mid-1980’s saw the realisation of a bloc that would cater to the overall development, progress, and prosperity of the seven south-Asian countries, namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan became the eighth member in 2005.

Founded in Bangladesh capital Dhaka in 1985, the secretariat is based in Nepal capital Kathmandu. On the lines of the erstwhile European Economic Community (EEC), which made way for European Union (EU), South Asia, especially the area encompassing the Indian Sub-continent transformed into a closely knit entity that would strive for the overall benefit and betterment of the members, in turn giving a fillip to their own causes.