‘SAARC, BIMSTEC inactive, ineffective’

‘SAARC, BIMSTEC inactive, ineffective’

SAM Staff,
Ex-Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Photo: bdnews24.com

Former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandarnaike Kumaratunga has slammed the SAARC and BIMSTEC for not doing anything to solve regional crises.

“Both regional organisations failed to resolve any political problems,” she said, delivering a lecture in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka on Tuesday (23 May).

“I would say the regional groupings are inactive and ineffective,” she said.

She said that, during her time as Sri Lankan President, she attended a summit in Maldives and, alongside then Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, slightly changed the language in the founding document of SAARC so that it could discuss bilateral or trilateral issues.‎

“But it has not been able to do anything to fix the political problems (of any member state).”

“I would say the same for the BIMSTEC,” she said, referring to the grouping that connects South Asia with Southeast Asia and which is seen as an alternative to SAARC as Pakistan is not a member of the group.

India-Pakistan tensions are seen as a stumbling block for SAARC and its mandate.

The Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organised the lecture on “Reconciling divided societies, building democracy and good governance: Lessons from Sri Lanka.”

Kumaratunga, who was president from November 1994 to November 2005, highlighted different aspects of the Sri Lanka’s post- civil war reconciliation and peace-building process.

She also discussed her country’s present state of democracy as well as good governance. She stressed the pluralistic, multicultural and diverse society in South Asia and identified terrorism as one of the main challenges to the region.

Referring to the Tamil Tigers, she said: “I come from a country which has experienced the effects of terrorism for nearly three decades”.

She stressed the need for identifying the “deep-rooted” causes of terrorism.

BIISS Chairman Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad and its Director General Maj Gen AKM Abdur Rahman also gave speeches on the occasion.