So far as the Mal-dives is concerned, there have been tensions in Indo-Maldivian bilateral ties in recent months.
New Delhi: With South Asian grouping Saarc virtually in cold storage due to Indo-Pak tensions, the forthcoming summit of another regional grouping Bimstec in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu at the end of this month will give India another opportunity to strengthen ties with its South Asian neighbours.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the summit on August 30 and 31. India has been increasingly investing its hopes for regional cooperation in Bimstec (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Tech-nical and Economic Cooperation) — which does not have Pakistan as a member. Bimstec comprises India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
With the exception of Southeast Asian countries Myanmar and Thailand, which are members of Asean, the rest of the Bimstec countries are also members of Saarc. Apart from Pakistan, the only other Saarc countries not part of Bimstec are Afghanistan and the Maldives.
India in any case has very robust ties with Afghanistan, with the Chabahar port project in Iran serving as an important sea-land connectivity initiative between the two countries bypassing Pakistan. So far as the Mal-dives is concerned, there have been tensions in Indo-Maldivian bilateral ties in recent months.
Government sources had said a few months ago that India “does not contemplate any Saarc summit” in the near future as Pakistan continues its policy of being actively involved in sponsoring cross-border terrorism. Sources had then said that “one country” — an obvious reference to Pakistan — continues its policy of sponsoring terror. Islamabad was also seen to be opposing connectivity initiatives within Saarc.
It may be recalled that the South Asian grouping Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) was desc-ribed last year by the then foreign secretary S. Jais-hankar as a “jammed” vehicle.
It may also be recalled that the 19th Saarc summit, which was scheduled to have been held in Islamabad in 2016, was “indefinitely postponed” after India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan among others pulled out of the event.