Pakistan is willing to create a bigger South Asian economic alliance to control India’s rising influence on the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), diplomatic observers say.
This idea was presented by a parliamentary delegation from Pakistan during its five-day visit to Washington last week.
“A greater South Asia is already emerging,” said Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, during one of his interactions with the media and also added that this greater South Asia includes China, Iran and the neighbouring Central Asian republics.
Pakistan cited the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as very important economic route which links South Asia with Central Asia. He indicated that the Gwadar port would be the most accessible warm water port for China and the land-locked Central Asian states.
“We want India to join this arrangement as well,” said Mr Hussain and also added that Indians are unlikely to accept the offer as they are comfortable with the present arrangement under Saarc.
This development comes after India influenced other members of Saarc to isolate Pakistan when it announced that it would not attend the regional group’s 19th Summit, scheduled in Islamabad on November 15 and 16.
India withdrew from the summit on the grounds of Pakistan’s alleged involvement in the September 18 terrorist attack in Uri. However, Pakistan rejects the Indian allegation and maintains that India has not provided evidence to support the claim. Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan followed India by withdrawing from the summit.