Following through the news about the ongoing 17th SAARC summit in Addu, it appears that there indeed are some beneficial ideas floating around in the summit. Here are some snippets of ideas under discussion at the summit:
- Pakistani delegation proposed to work towards single currency in the region like Euro and to remove visa restrictions throughout the SAARC region.
- Sheikh Haseena of Bangladesh spoke about this issue in terms of removing restrictions to migrant workers through SAARC region.
- Dr. Manmohan Singh emphasized the need to open up economies for foreign investment.
- The Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa proposes to iron out their position with India and Maldives on fish poachery by south Indian fishermen.
- Not to be outdone, Maldives proposed common railway link agreement between SAARC member nations which hopefully will make travel between some SAARC countries easier and cheaper.
Looking at these positions, its evident that each politician is just voicing concerns that is primarily advantageous to their economies. This is politically playing it safe and treading the well-worn path. This could be the reason why the region is slow to adapt to any meaningful beneficial proposals from successive SAARC summits over the years. What is needed for the region is bold daring moves to bring meaningful changes to the region. Currently the position of member countries is such that its a pain even to obtain a student visa to most SAARC countries despite all the talk of SAARC brotherhood.
To realize SAARC objectives, the leaders need to rise above the day to day quibbling with political drama and be visionary in thinking. Of course it is easier said than done and in giant countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh one would be naive to think that a magic spell exists to rise above that level that keeps our politicians at permanently at their lows.