SAARC - a successful or failed stage?

SAARC - a successful or failed stage?


SAARC was created for promoting regional cooperation in various fields such as economic and social welfare. Yet South Asia is one of the most illiterate and poorest regions of the world even now.

Many South Asian countries are facing issues such as malnourishment and gender inequity. They are also some of the topmost deprived nations in the world. South Asia contains over 20% of the world’s population yet a total of approximately 40% of the world’s poverty stricken people live here. Problems such as illiteracy, unemployment, poverty and low productivity continue to plague the population living in this region despite the formation of organizations such as SAARC. Ever since the formation of SAARC, numerous regional summits and agreements have been conducted and yet there are no tangible improvements in this region. SAARC is definitely a failure.


• Nearly 35% of the population in South Asia currently earns an income of less than 1 dollar. The formation of SAARC in 1985 has done nothing to eliminate the problem of poverty in this region. It is due to the ineffectiveness of regional organizations such as SAARC that the long standing problem of poverty in this region has not been solved.

• Another goal of SAARC had been to strengthen the relationships and collaborations between countries on important social, economic, cultural, scientific, technological and political issues. But the member countries have not been able to achieve significant cohesion and connectivity compared to other parts of the world such as EU.

• Another problem is that there have been no concrete steps towards major initiatives for peace and development in this region. SAARC has not been able to make headway for key issues such as collaboration on initiatives to counter terrorism. It has not promoted peace and comity between member nations. The biggest problem is that the regional organization has failed to promote trust and understanding between member nations.

• There is a sense of insecurity between key members of SAARC. While the leading nations have established hegemony, the other countries are left out of the power equations. Ever since its formation in 1985, SAARC has been unable to promote a better relationship between India and Pakistan. Relations between the two nations are still cold and there are frequent exchanges of fire across the LOC in Kashmir. The diplomatic circles have strove to find solutions but a rapprochement between the two nations now seems next to impossible. SAARC has not promoted mutual understanding and compassion between the two nations and key issues such as the border dispute remain unresolved.

• Member nations are also accusing each other of abetting separatist and secessionist forces on their soil. Rather than dealing with the problem jointly, member nations are become increasingly isolated from each other. SAARC has failed to resolve the deadlock regarding several key issues and conflicts in South Asia.


SAARC has created more problems than it has solved. This regional organization has failed to address key issues in South Asia. Member nations have not been able to establish adequate trust or satisfactory trade agreements as a result of conflicts. SAARC has accomplished little since its establishment in 1985.
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  • SAARC - a successful or failed stage? -Farhana Afreen (04/03/14)
  • SAARC - a successful or failed stage?

    The SAARC was created with an objective to promote welfare economics, collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia, and to accelerate socio-cultural development in the region. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation has seen success around the year of its creation but in present time it has become more of a failure than a success in achieving its aims. There have been drawbacks and failures that have raised questions on the functioning of the organization. Let us first name the objectives that were behind the creation of SAARC which shall make it easier to point out its failures:

    • To promote the welfare of the people of South Asia and to improve their quality of life;

    • To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potential ;

    • To promote and strengthen selective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia;

    • To contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another's problems;

    • To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields;

    • To strengthen co-operation with other developing countries;

    • To strengthen co-operation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interest; and

    • To co-operate with international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes.

    • To maintain peace in the region.

    SAARC has brought no major changes in the economic conditions of the nations or for improving the quality of lives. Majority of the population in its member nations are below poverty line and nothing has been done from the organization towards their benefit.

    The South Asia Preferential Trading Agreement (SAPTA) was signed in the 7th summit at Dhaka in April 93, but it has not yet come to effect. A proposal was made to establish South Asian Food Reserve and South Asian Development Fund which is also yet to be put into effect. Same can be said about the declarations on improving political collaboration and endorsement of reciprocated reliance and understandings restated again and again in each summit have seen no success or advancement.

    No major step has been taken to promote peace and trust amongst member nations that are still in conflict. Promotion of trade and economy can only be possible if relations amongst member nations are on a stable ground. SAARC has failed to incorporate trust among its nations in a way that could help achieve the objectives of the organization. The best example is of the differences between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. Lives are still lost every other day on the borders of these nations. SAARC took no sensible step to solve this matter on their level.

    The failures of SAARC are making it more of a defunct group in comparison to EU and ASEAN. It is high time that SAARC should take some major steps towards retaining its liability else member nations would regard it as nothing more than an impractical organization.

    SAARC summits should operate as a medium where member states converse not only matters of provincial significance but also the essential causes of apprehension in mutual relations amongst member nations. To maintain its authority and significance SAARC should abstain from impractical economic and social objectives. It should rather focus to be successfully used as an intermediate to talk about issues of peace, defence and development with international organisations and agencies to encourage welfare of the member nations.