Asserting that India has an important role to play in the "new multilateral order" in the world, a group of foreign affairs experts on Friday said efforts should be made to revive the SAARC despite issues arising out of Pakistan.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, a regional grouping, has been lying dormant since 2014, when its last summit was held in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Its members are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
"Revival of the SAARC should be done at all cost. If it is not done, this regional grouping will be rendered redundant," said Brig Gen AKM Iqbal Azim, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Bangladesh University of Professionals in Dhaka.
He said this during his address at a session of a two-day global summit titled 'India and the New Multilateral Order' here, which was also attended by former Nepal minister Sunil B Thapa.
The former minister for industry and commerce and supplies, when asked about the fate of SAARC said there has to be a continuous dialogue for breaking barriers.
SAARC Summits are usually held biennially hosted by a member state in alphabetical order. The member state hosting the summit assumes the Chair of the Association.
The 2014 SAARC Summit was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The 2016 SAARC Summit was to be held in Islamabad, but India and a few other members had pulled out of it, after terror attack in Uri.
Asked if the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir, and Pakistan's reaction to it, would have a bearing on the prospect of the revival of SAARC, Brig Gen Azim said, "India has an important role to play in this new multilateral order, and, though there are challenges associated with it, India can actually turn these challenges into opportunities".
Thapa said his father Surya Bahadur Thapa, a former prime minister of Nepal, was the head of the state when a SAARC Summit was held in early 2000s in Kathmandu.
Founded in 1985 at Dhaka, SAARC was conceived as an ambitious platform for regional cooperation in the Indian sub-continent.
Earlier, at the inaugural session of the event, Lt Gen P S Rajeshwar, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, and Chairman, Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS), said India saw many benefits in joining organisations that harmonised peace, development and security.
"The changing nature of the world order and the uncertainty that it brings to international affairs is pushing countries to invest in multilateral and bilateral initiatives as well as in creating new groupings both regional and global," he was quoted as saying in a statement.
The event has been organised by Global Dialogue Forum, a city-based think-tank along with the CENJOWS and Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
"It puts spotlight on a new world order where India seeks an enhanced role for itself through its emphasis on the neighbourhood, extending towards East and Southeast Asia under BIMSTEC," said Moses Manoharan, chairman of the think tank.
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