DISMAL FATE OF HELPLESS BIMSTEC


ALI SUKHANVER

Another SAARC is drowning down into the sea of Indian hegemonic designs. Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral and Economic Cooperation commonly known as BIMSTEC is an international organization, founded in 1997.It comprises of seven nations of South Asia and South East Asia, ‘housing 1.5 billion people and having a combined gross domestic product of $3.5 trillion.’ This organization is somewhat different from the SAARC with reference to its working procedure but as far as aims and objectives are concerned both organizations have a lot of commonality. The permanent headquarter of the BIMSTEC is in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The member countries include India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. On the other hand SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) was established in 1985. In the beginning there were seven Asian countries of the SAARC including Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, India, and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan joined this association later in 2007. Initially SAARC was established to retreat and up hold the peace in the south Asian region and to create the opportunities of interaction between member countries. The main purpose of the formation of this association was to increase the process of economic and social development in member states, through joint action in the agreed areas of cooperation. Unfortunately this organization could not prove itself effective because of a total non-co operational behaviour of India. Prof. Nageswara Rao, a well known Indian analyst on regional affairs, once commented very beautifully on the failure of SAARC by saying, “Instead of deliberating on mutual understanding and cooperation, for which SAARC had been formed, the member-countries were trying to pull the other down at international forums.” Certainly he was pointing towards India because it is India which has ever been playing the role of the ‘mischievous child’ in the whole game of SAARC. Indian interference in the countries like Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar is no more a secret. Moreover its continuous involvement in disturbing law and order situation in Pakistan’s province Balochistan with the help of its own ‘pet-terrorists’ and patronizing of terrorists in major cities of Pakistan is also to the knowledge of every Tom, Dick and Harry. Whenever during the meetings of SAARC, India-effected countries expressed their reservations with reference to the hegemonic behaviour of India; they received a very negative response from India. So feeling the growing resentment from these countries and apprehending further developments in this context, India started showing indifference to the SAARC activities. Ultimately it all resulted in the practical-death of SAARC. Now almost thirty three years after its birth, SAARC is alive only in files and papers. There is not even a single achievement to the credit of SAARC though it could have proved very fruitful with reference to the regional co-operation if it were not interrupted by India. The same fate is now waiting for BIMSTEC and this fate was being apprehended since long. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was the executive president of Sri Lanka for consecutive two terms from 1994 to 2005. Somewhere in the third week of 2017, she delivered a lecture at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies auditorium Dhaka in which she had said, ‘Sadly, both the regional organizations — Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation or BIMSTEC and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation or SAARC — have severely failed in resolving political problems between member states.’ The lecture was organized by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies.

In the beginning BIMSTEC was being considered a substitute to the SAARC but now situation is altogether otherwise. The member countries are losing all their hopes, particularly the landlocked countries like Nepal and Bhutan; the reason behind is nothing but hegemonic designs of India; bullying her neighboring countries has always been a built-in trait of India and her feeling of supremacy over the member countries is the basic reason of wide-spread disappointment among the member countries of SAARC as well as of BIMSTEC.  Recently the fourth BIMSTEC Summit was held in Nepal30-31 August. The main theme of this summit was ‘Towards a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal region’. During the summit the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed rather ‘instructed’ to all member countries to take part in the military exercises being hosted by India in Pune under the banner of BIMSTEC in the coming week. In response to this ‘instruction’, Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Oli, asked Nepal’s National Defence Force not to participate in the drill, reported the Kathmandu Post. The decision of withdrawal from the exercises was taken just a day before the Army squad was set to travel to Pune. Reports say that this decision came after strong criticism from different quarters, including influential leaders from ruling Nepal Communist Party. Nepal has decided to go ahead with a bilateral exercise with China, say media reports. Speaking exclusively to India Today, Nepal Army’s spokesperson Brigadier General Gokul Bhandaree said that India should not be concerned with the bilateral military exercises with China which will take place on September 17-28 in Chengdu of China. “India is promoting BIMSTEC in order to undercut the SAARC, primarily to isolate Pakistan, which is a SAARC member state but not included in BIMSTEC,” said Biswas Baral, the editor of The Annapurna Express Kathmandu, in a recent article. An important question arises here; who has issued India the license of ‘Don’t Let Others Live’?

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