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The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation: problems and prospects

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date10/2014
JournalProgress in Development Studies
Journal number4
Volume14
Number of pages9
Pages373-381
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Regionalism has been an important force in international relations since 1945. Most regional organizations that came into existence after the end of the Second World War dealt primarily with defence and security issues. With the passage of time, however, regional trading blocs have considerably gained in importance. The aim of this article is to look at the only regional organization in South Asia, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The article argues that regionalism in contemporary South Asia has been problematic right from the start because South Asia has been plagued with ongoing conflicts both at the interstate level and at the domestic level. The main interstate conflict in South Asia has been the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan, the two dominant forces in the region. Internal problems within India include the Maoist insurgency and secessionist movements in the Indian northeast. Pakistan has also struggled with major internal problems such as Islamist terrorism. Since these countries have been giving their time and attention to their internal problems, developing a unified approach to deal with regional problems and also a collective sense of identity has proven to be very problematic. These internal problems within the national boundaries of each of these South Asian countries and the interstate conflicts in the region especially between India and Pakistan have most certainly undermined regionalism in the past in South Asia, and continue to do so. Finally, the article takes a security studies approach whilst making an assessment of the SAARC.