The SAARC member countries are to meet this week for the first time since the postponement of the last SAARC Summit which was originally scheduled for last November 9 and 10.
The 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in 2016, which was to be held in Pakistani capital Islamabad, had been postponed after four member states, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan, decided to boycott the summit.
According to the Indian Express news website, a meeting of the SAARC Programming Committee will be held coming Wednesday and Thursday in Kathmandu, capital of SAARC’s current chair Nepal. The website cited sources of India’s Ministry of External Affairs that the joint secretaries of SAARC countries will attend this meeting to discuss several issues including the budget of the SAARC Secretariat and five regional centres of SAARC as well as rescheduling the next summit.
The SAARC Summit of 2016 was delayed amidst heightening tension between India and Pakistan. The former declared that Pakistan had failed to provide a safe environment for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cross borders to attend the summit amidst cross-border fighting, and pulled out of the summit. India was soon followed by Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
SAARC regulations stipulate that summits will be automatically cancelled or postponed in the absence of any member states.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was founded in 1995 to promote development of economic and regional integration among its member states of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.