Like other European Organisation the South-Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) tried from the very beginning to establish unity among its member nations.
Further, it also aimed at improving the social and economic condition of the countries associated with it. In 1985, it was formed by seven member-nations like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
In 1987, Zia-ur-Rahman, the President of Bangladesh gave a proposal for the establishment of a regional organisation which will foster mutual co-operation among the Asian countries. This proposal was accepted by seven countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives at Colombo in 1981.
The Foreign Secretaries of these seven countries met at Kathmandu in 1981 and Pakistan in 1982 and discussed on many aspects of this organisation. In 1983 there was a meeting at Dhaka. In 1983 and 1984 meetings were held at Delhi and all the aspects of this organisation were vividly discussed. At last in 1984 at Male the SA.A.RC was given a final shape.
The First SAARC Summit (1985):
The First SAARC Summit was held on 7 and 8 December, 1985 at Dhaka in Bangladesh. All the seven nations participated in this Summit. President H.M. Ershad of Bangladesh acted as its first Chairman. Developments of social, economic, cultural, technical co-operation among the member-nations were accepted as objectives of this organisation.
The guiding principles of the organisation were equality, independence, integrity and non-interference. Proposals for the formation of a Technical Committee and Action Committee were also accepted in this summit. Proposal was also given for the formation of a Secretariat for the SAARC.
Second SAARC Summit (1986):
On 16 and 17 November, 1986, the Second SAARC Summit was held at Bangalore in India. In this Summit Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India took over the charge as Chairman of SAARC from President Ershad of Bangladesh. This summit decided to set up technical committees on women’s participation in developmental activities.
It also decided to end drug abuse and drug trafficking. It also took decision to expand the SAARC efforts at co-operation in fields like South-Asian broadcasting programme, promotion of tourism, providing facilities to students and academicians and harnessing of the idealism of the youth. Decision was also taken to fight against terrorism.
Third SAARC Summit (1987):
The Third SAARC Summit was held between 24 November 1987 at Kathmandu in Nepal. This summit put emphasis to increase co-operation among the member countries in the areas of trade, industry, disaster management and environment conservation. The dropping of food packets in Japan from air by India was opposed by Sri Lanka.
The proposal of India to include Afghanistan as a member of the SAARC and Pakistan’s proposal to declare South-Asia as nuclear-free zone were not accepted by other member countries. Decision was also taken to encourage Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).
Fourth SAARC Summit (1988):
Between 29-31 December, 1988, The Fourth SAARC Summit was held at Islamabad in Pakistan. Benezir Bhutto, the Prime Minister of Pakistan became the Chairman in this summit. The member nations expressed their sorrows for the natural disasters like earthquake, flood, cyclone etc. which had taken place in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
It was also decided that the justices of the Supreme Courts and members of the Parliaments of the member nation would be given chance to visit the member countries of the SAARC. All the Seven countries expressed their unanimous decision for the development of human resources.
Fifth SAARC Summit (1990):
The Fifth SAARC Summit scheduled to be held at Sri Lanka, could not be held. So, it was held between 21-23 November, 1990 at Male in Maldives. Chandra Sekhar, the then Prime Minister of India attended this Conference. The members of SAARC expressed their grave concern on drug smuggling, terrorism and international weapon trade.
This summit decided to establish ‘Human Resource Development Centre’ at Islamabad, Regional T.V. Centre’ in Kathmandu and ‘Regional Documentation Centre’ in New Delhi.
Sixth SAARC Summit (1991):
The Sixth SAARC Summit was held on 21 December, 1991 at Colombo. This summit welcomed the general trend towards disarmament. It was accepted that establishment of peace was the first reason for the rise of the Third Word. It was decided that an Inter Governmental Group (IGG) was to be formed.
The SAARC leaders decided to establish an independent South Asian Committee on poverty allevation. It was also decided that a Disaster Management Committee should be formed. P.V. Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister of India urged for ‘Collective Security’ and the proposal was accepted.
Seventh SAARC Summit (1993):
The Seventh SAARC Summit was held on 10 and 11 April, 1993 at Dhaka. The member nations accepted the proposal of ‘Integrated Programme of Action’. This Summit accepted the proposal for the eradication of poverty in South Asia. It also gave a clarion call for the protection of environment and for that, programmes in national, regional and international sphere should be organised. Proposal was also accepted to check infant mortality. It also declared to increase public relation and bring development in Science. P.V. Narasimha Rao, the Prime Minister of India attended this Conference.
Eighth SAARC Summit (1995):
The Eighth SAARC Summit was held between 2-4 May 1995 at New Delhi. A commercial agreement (SAPTA) took place among the member nations. Satisfaction was expressed on the working of ‘Document Centre’ (SDC) established at New Delhi in 1994 and ‘Mining Research Centre’ (SMRC) established at Dhaka in 1995.
This summit urged to curb terrorism in international sphere. The SAARC ‘Regional Development Fund’ for South Asia (SADF) was formed. P.V. Narasimha Rao gave a call for the eradication of poverty in South Asia.
Ninth SAARC Summit (1997):
The Ninth SAARC Summit was held between 12-14 May in 1997 at Male in Maldives. I.K. Gujral, the Prime Minister of India attended this conference. In this summit, declaration was made regarding ‘South Asian Free Trade Area’ (SAFTA). The member nations decided to put an end to trade restrictions which existed among each other. All the member nations agreed to develop political co-operation among each other. This summit recommended for a meeting of the women representatives of member countries.
Tenth SAARC Summit (1998):
The Tenth SAARC Summit was held between 29-31 July at Colombo in Sri Lanka. A hot discussion was made their regarding the nuclear tests of India and Pakistan. The member nations observed regarding the failure of nuclear test ban treaties like NPT and CTBT. They decided to extent cooperation to each other in case of economic relation.
Eleventh SAARC Summit (2002):
The Eleventh SAARC Summit was held at Kathmandu in Nepal. On 5 and 6 January, 2002. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India, vehemently criticised the cross-border terrorism. It was unanimously decided that terrorism should be given a decent burial. The influential speech of Vajpayee exerted tremendous influence on the member nations. Emphasis was put on the fact that the members should solve the differences among themselves through mutual understanding.
Twelfth SAARC Summit (2004):
The Twelfth SAARC Summit was held at Islamabad in Pakistan between 4-6 January, 2004. In this Summit Parvez Musharraf, the President of Pakistan assured to maintain friendship with India and other SAARC countries. Atal Behari Vajpayee delivered his speech saying that the figure of South Asia is to be projected before others vigorously.
In social sphere health, education, human resource etc. are to be developed. Terrorism was to be given a good bye. Many agreements were signed to make Asia as a free trade zone. It was decided that the Thirteenth SAARC Summit would be held in Bangladesh.
Thirteenth SAARC Summit (2005):
This Summit was held at Dhaka during 12-13 November, 2005. The decade from 2006 to 2015 was declared as ‘The SAARC Decade of Poverty Eradication’. The summit resolved to fight against AIDS, to eradicate poverty and to fight against terrorism.
Fourteenth SAARC Summit (2007):
This summit was held during 3-4 April, 2007 at New Delhi. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presided over the meeting. Discussion was made regarding the protection of environment, uplift of women, paying attention to the comfort of common men etc.
With the advancement of time, ‘SAARC Years’ are being observed regularly. 1990 was SAARC’s ‘Year of Girl Child’ and 1991 was meant for ‘Year of Shelter’. 1992 was SAARC’s ‘Year of Disabled Person’.
Similarly, SAARC declared 1994 as ‘Year of Youth’, 1995 as ‘Year of Poverty Eradication’, 1996 as ‘Year of Literacy’ and 1997 as ‘Year of Participatory Governance’. From 1991 to 2000, a decade was declared as ‘SAARC Decade of the Girl Child’.
All these steps have made SAARC very popular Infact, the SAARC has maintained cordial relation with the Asiatic Countries. Almost after every two years, the SAARC is meeting regularly. SAARC is a call of the time. If it works properly, it will change the lot of the Asiatic Countries.