Most observers do not have many expectations from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), and, indeed, the progress that the region has seen in bilateral or sub-regional cooperation over the last decade has not involved the association. But times are unprecedented, thanks to Covid-19.
Like last year, Nepal, the current chair of Saarc, plans to host a meeting (virtual) of the Saarc council of ministers during the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly in the third week of September. Is there anything that these ministers can meaningfully do through Saarc to help reduce economic hardship and, through some quick wins, create hope for greater stability in the region?
Despite its limitations, Saarc – if used effectively by Nepal and the council of ministers – may be able to add some value in the current turmoil, and, in the process, enhance its credibility and effectiveness.