chapter  33
14 Pages

Dynamics of South Asian regionalism

ByKishore C. Dash

A framework agreement on regional cooperation in South Asia was first reached between seven South Asian countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – in 1983. Two years later, after further planning and negotiation, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)was launched at the first regional summit in Dhaka in December 1985 to advance the dual goals of promoting peace and development in South Asia. Afghanistan was admitted as the eighth member in 2007. However, after 25 years of existence, SAARC’s progress remains slow and its achievements in terms of programme implementation and regional institutional arrangements can be described as modest at best. SAARC’s ‘turbulent nongrowth’ (Haas 1990) over the past decades, coupled with the existence of mutual hostility and trust deficit among South Asian countries, has led many observers to question if South Asian leaders will be able to pursue deeper regional cooperation that involves taking concrete initiatives to strengthen the existing regional arrangements and building new regional institutions to achieve mutual benefit (see Lawrence 1996).