| by N.S.Venkataraman

(November 29, 2014, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) One more SAARC meet has now ended at Kathmandu . Certainly, this is no different from the earlier meet and does not appear like giving any new sense of direction to the SAARC movement. Whatever the speeches made by the leaders in Kathmandu look like old wine in new bottle

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reacts as he attends the opening session of 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu November 26, 2014.

The ground reality is that all members of SAARC are having severe domestic issues and suffer from economic hardships. All the SAARC countries are facing difficult situation due to terrorism in their territory . No SAARC country is really in a strong position to help another SAARC country in solving the economic and other issues. The suspicion and misgivings between India and Pakistan are too glaring to give any sense that the deliberations in the SAARC meet would be productive and purposive.

The SAARC countries need to significantly promote industrial and economic growth in their regions to eliminate the poverty conditions. It is not clear as to whether this issue has been addressed in any meaningful way and no integrated strategies to help each other by coordinating their industrial and economic plans have been worked out. Atleast , some worthwhile efforts could have been made to coordinate trade activities between SAARC countries in a mutually beneficial manner but nothing of this sort has happened. Such deliberations would have raised some hopes about the future of SAARC.

Certainly, there are immense possibilities to strengthen the trading activities between the SAARC countries and the issues could have been discussed in a transparent and pointed manner.

The real fact is that the issues between the SAARC nations have not been openly discussed and perhaps even some discussions have been avoided, so that there would be no embarrassment for any participant in the meet.

Not a single day passes without India and Pakistan accusing each other on one pretext or other and shooting continues at the borders in Kashmir. It would have been appropriate if other SAARC nations have raised this issue and advised both India and Pakistan to find an amicable solution soon. On the other hand, the other SAARC nations behaved as if they are not concerned about the problems between India and Pakistan. How can there be a harmonious relationship between SAARC countries in such conditions ?

Sri Lanka is now facing criticism with regard to the human rights violations during the recently ended ethnic conflict. Resolutions have been passed in United Nations but SAARC meet did not discuss these issues at all.

Afghanistan is having turbulent times and one thought that the Afghan issue should have been discussed threadbare and the feasibility of other SAARC nations helping Afghanistan in one way other should have been examined.

There are so many other subjects that could have been raised during the SAARC meet but none of them were raised.

Finally, one gets an impression that SAARC meet at Kathmandu has ended as a mere cosmetic and routine exercise.