New Delhi Can’t Just Attend Summits, It Needs to Re-Calibrate Ties with Neighbours Like Maldives
The latest instance of India and other countries finding common ground was when the SAARC Summit in 2016 was cancelled due to India’s refusal to attend as a protest against the Uri terror attack, which resulted in the deaths of 19 Indian soldiers. Three other SAARC countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan – also backed India’s stance. Both Bangladesh and Bhutan issued very strong statements. A communication from Bangladesh stated:
“The growing interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh by one country has created an environment, which is not conducive to the successful hosting of the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad in November 2016”.
Bhutan too issued a strong statement echoing India’s concerns.
In recent months, Pakistan has been trying its utmost not just to gain legitimacy in the SAARC region, but even emerge as a key player in South Asia. To this end, PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited Nepal in March 2018, and discussed the progress of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and sought the revival of the SAARC Process. Interestingly, Abbasi also announced the doubling of scholarship quotas for Nepali students wanting to pursue higher studies in Pakistan.