International Affairs · Public Policy

Fate of SAARC: Political Leadership Does Matter

International Relations terminology is fond of talking about state as an axis point of all   proceedings and happenings. The harsh authority of national interest is considered supreme and decisions and relationships among state are considered to be result of narrow and self-centered gains; a zero-sum game. The concept of nation state bound a cognitive with the norm of sovereignty, citizenship and territory. The question whether this cognitive is constant or is perceptual is the biggest debate of the arena.

The stories of win-win strategy of co-operation among the state and the recent phenomenon of regional integration do raise a question on the Hobbesian understanding of world. European Union’s territorial freedom among states and the determinant behavior to assist Greece in resent past while the consequences were written down by each and every newspaper and analyst; indicates towards the importance and relevance of decision-makers behind the scene.

The leaders of European Union decide not to leave it behind. Political leadership of a state always matters in the defining the attitude of a state towards others. The constructivist strand of international relations explains the emergence of these survival norms .The inherent meanings are defined by ideas and these ideas are not different from the personality they evolve.

The role of leadership becomes more prominent when histories create ridges among the states and psychologically haunt the decision-makers with the sour memories of blood-shed and hatred. Yes, I am trying to shift your attention to the most unsuccessful example of regional cooperation, SAARC. The paradoxical relationship  among the states of the regional grouping have interesting enmities and friendships, connectors and dividers, affiliations and diversions. With the analysis of Waltz the domestic and international are pretty much interlinked and when it comes to South Asia the inside –out dynamics is essential to explore.

The  bureaucratically administrative nature of each state ranging from giant India to  group of small atolls ,Maldives , the severe obstacles like extremism and terrorism , the ethnic conflicts and the notion of the not belonging to others could be tackled and the potential exists with the ruling leadership. The engaging ideas of a leader can change the establish notion of the rigidity and animosity among the states. Being the centre of the SAARC and the comparatively well-off India has a major responsibility to engage with all of them without hegemonic traits. The strong leadership at the centre of India and the foreign policy regarding SAARC could certainly present a lead to develop with the neighbours.

The present invitation India’s prime-minister Narendra Modi has presented a will to concentrate on the importance of SAARC and showed his determinant position about the institution by inviting the political leadership of each member country in his swearing ceremony. The gesture expressed totally depend on the personality and the ideas of the leader  to present the reality to its citizens. Fortunately, most of the SAARC countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and constitutionally puzzled Nepal are heading towards the democratic transition.

With the pro-India leadership in Pakistan the leaders of two nations have a great opportunity to make a positive landmark in the relations between them which are considered to be biggest hindrance in successful integration of establishing South Asian vision. Political will is the driving force behind the decisions made by the leadership and the art to constructively utilize the political influence of an authority can change a dynamics around the nation of South Asia.

Leadership theories in the literature generally talked about the potential characteristics of leadership with cognitive ability and knowledge about their business but the attributes like originality, creatively and flexibility also create a potentially successful and visionary leader.

Behaviour of presenting determination , an ability to articulate a vision and a sense of mission make citizens be confident on them and firm faith at the domestic level would definitely be transformed at presenting a leadership trait at the international level.

All the proposals of economic integration for the region, a dream of a visa-free regime or any   other type of co-operation require the management of trust deficit among them and a leader with his visionary ideas and persuasive power certainly contribute to decrease the line of conflicts.

Current scenario for India is favourable with the strong and determinant government in the centre with the charismatic leadership which has acceptance at international level. Charismatic and active leadership of Modi could be scored in fueling a strong role in regional integration of SAARC.

About the Author

Naina SinghNaina Singh is currently pursuing her majors in international relations from South Asian University, New Delhi. Most of the time shes read for fueling her thinking. She loves to take out time sports.She has developed an affiliation towards cultural studies, strategic studies and regional studies. She is currently pursuing her internship with Alexis Centre for Public Policy and International Relations.

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