Pakistan and Sri Lanka have come together and called for breaking the stalemate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and emphasised that the forum should be kept intact despite the ongoing differences. A logical and peaceful demand, in the face of an aggressive India, whose refusal to attend the last SAARC conference in Pakistan last year has made the SAARC almost redundant.

A panel discussion on “SAARC: Its Impediments and Way Forward”, was organised by the High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka and the premier national security think tank, Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSSSL), where workable solutions to longstanding issues such as the conflict between Pakistan and India on Kashmir were discussed.

Pakistan has time and again displayed goodwill on its part and expressed its desire to initiate dialogue. Last month, Pakistan sent back an Indian soldier who crossed the Line of Control, on humanitarian grounds. India has responded to this kind gesture by indulging in unprovoked cross border firing, violating the LoC despite our protests, killing an innocent man belonging from the Khuiratta sector. Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign affairs said in a statement, “Despite Indian belligerence, Pakistan believes in peaceful neighbourhood and rejects all actions aimed at undermining regional peace and security”, and India’s provocations are on display for the international community, no matter the rhetoric it cooks up in its media.

As an organisation, SAARC does not tackle the bilateral issues of India and Pakistan, a condition built into its charter, making it a non-threatening forum for regional trade and peace. Indian resistance to meeting Pakistan at SAARC is petty and selfish. India maybe prepared to throw it all away to appease a political party of extremists, but other member states should realise the benefits of the forum as a non-controversial platform to erect some semblance of good will upon.