After India’s decision to pull out of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in September last year, it is now shamelessly attempting to block the appointment of a Pakistani diplomat as the next secretary general of the regional body on ‘procedural grounds’. SAARC has been fraught with internal rifts, and the future of the body remains uncertain in the face of blatant hostility displayed by India. Sadly, this is the first time in SAARC’s eventful history that it is moving towards a standoff over this issue.

The SAARC secretariat can potentially remain a headless body for a long time if this diplomatic stalemate continues and India does not reason with itself soon. The appointment of the secretary general is carried out according to rotation and the Pakistani turn is supposed to start from March 1, 2017 and continue till February 28, 2020. Pakistan has nominated Amjad Hussain Sial, a career diplomat, for the position replacing Kathmandu-based SAARC secretariat Arjun Bahadur Thapa, whose tenure expires on February 28.

India is employing useless delay tactics such as the failure of the ratification of the nomination by the Council of Ministers meeting that did not take place due to none other than India pulling out of the SAARC summit. Citing procedural issues such as this, it is clear that the eastern neighbour is only doing this to impede Pakistan.

In October 2016, Pakistan explored the possibility of creating a greater South Asian economic alliance to counter India’s conflicting behaviour in the international diplomatic forum and its influential hold on member countries of the SAARC, who pulled out of the summit on its command. A parliamentary delegation from Pakistan, which visited Washington late last year recommended the inclusion of China, Iran and the neighbouring Central Asian republics so that a true representation of the region can ensure a more holistic cooperation and capacity building of the greater South Asian region. But for this, India must learn to work with Pakistan.