South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC)
South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) was found in 1985, with its headquarters at Kathmandu in Nepal. It was committed to economic, technological, social and cultural development of South Asian nations. It has seven member states. They are India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives. In 2007, even Afghanistan joined the co-operation.
There are five broad areas recognized by the member states of SAARC for regional co-operation. These areas are agricultural and rural development telecommunication, science, technology and meteorology, health and population activities and transport and human resource development.
The main aims of SAARC include promoting welfare of people living in countries of South Asia and improve their standard of living. It also aims to make fast socio-economic and cultural development by trying to provide people with equal opportunity to live with self-respect. It tries to encourage and strengthen self-reliance among the countries (SAARC) of South Asia. To strengthen cooperation with other developing countries is another important objective of SAARC. It functions to encourage active association and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields. Cooperate on matters of common interest at international level and to strengthen cooperation with regional and global organizations are another important objective of SAARC.
Australia, China, European Union, Japan, Iran, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea and USA are the nine observer nations of SAARC. However, in 2006, the foreign ministers of the SAARC countries agreed to grant observe status to USA and South Korea.
The member states of SAARC are keen to promote peace, stability and development in the region. They are aware of the common problems, interests and desires of people in South Asia. However, SAARC has contributed cooperative independence by economic, social and technical assistance among the member nations.
The 18th SAARC Summit was held at the Nepalese capital Kathmandu from November 26 to November 27, 2014. It was attended by the Prime Ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan as well as the Presidents of the Afghanistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka. The motto was Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity’. However, Pakistan will host the 19th summit of SAARC in Islamabad in 2016.