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Vol. 3(3), May 2014

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Khan JA

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Global Advanced Research Journal of History, Political Science and International Relations (GARJHPSIR) ISSN: 2315-506X

May 2014 Vol. 3(3), pp 030-034

Copyright © 2014 Global Advanced Research Journals





SAARC: (Still) in Search of Regional Integration?


Jahangir Ahmad Khan


Research Scholar, School of International Studies, Central University of Gujarat, Sector -30 Gandhinagar, Gujarat India-382030.


E-mail:; Contact No. 07818865842


Accepted 15 May, 2014




Regional integration is a process by which states enter into agreements to enhance cooperation through institutions and rules. The objectives of such agreements could be many. The South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC), which was established in 1985 after four years of sustained and difficult negotiations, is such an attempt at the integration of the subcontinent. Although there has been cooperation on issues that are seen to be peripheral in nature, these are inadequate to show that SAARC has bolstered regional unity and cooperation in the way it was envisaged to have. In this regard, it is compared with processes such the ASEAN or the European Union (EU). Despite sustaining its official existence, it has had a chequered trajectory primarily because of the enduring conflict between India and Pakistan, the asymmetrical distribution of capabilities between the member states, the capital-centric approach to regional integration, and the inability of national regimes to view cross-border commonalities as nodes of cooperation between countries rather than sensitive zones that need to be securitised and fortified. SAARC countries are yet to evolve a practical framework and realistic terms of reference for cooperation on substantive matters on the basis of complementarity and mutual benefit. By revisiting the reasons for the lack of substantial progress of SAARC, this paper will review its recent trajectory and anticipate its future prospects. It will ask: what factors can contribute to, and effectively stabilise, regional cooperation? Can a shift from state security to human and cooperative security occur? Can economics trump politics in regional integration? Answers to these questions will help us appreciate the constraints on prospects of cooperation in South Asia.


Keywords: SAARC, Regional integration