Suspending Afghanistan from SAARC and international law (Prabhash Ranjan, ORF)

The meeting of the foreign ministers of the member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), planned on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly session in New York, was cancelled. The reason for this cancellation was Pakistan’s insistence that the Taliban be allowed to represent Afghanistan, which other SAARC member states didn’t agree to. What happened in New York is a precursor of things to come. Pakistan will assert the Taliban’s participation in all future SAARC meetings, not just at the secretariat and organisational level but also in various specialist bodies of SAARC such as the South Asian University (SAU) and the SAARC Development Fund. These specialist bodies have governing councils that comprise all SAARC member states. If Pakistan asserts that the Taliban or its nominees be allowed to represent Afghanistan in these specialist bodies, which will not be acceptable to India, the governing council meetings of these organisations shall not take place. This, in turn, will make these organisations, and SAARC as a whole, dysfunctional. In any case, SAARC and its specialist bodies have miserably failed in realising their potential and fulfilling the collective aspirations of peace and progress of around 1.9 billion South Asians, due to the unending India-Pakistan hostilities.

Suspending Afghanistan from SAARC and international law | ORF (