There is no denying the fact that out of the countries of South Asian Regions, India as a mainstay power of South Asia articulate a premeditated unity of the region and regard as the safekeeping of the diminutive regional actors as essential to its own safety measures. It takes into consideration the latter to be the exclusive strategic backyard of India. On the other hand, the small states tend to recognize India as the most important source of peripheral menace to their defence.
The miscellany in law-making systems customary problems in South Asia. India and Sri Lanka have conventionally accomplished sales rep democracy. The Indian know-how of democracy has had severe tests in recent years, since the urgent situation in respect of the period of 1975-77; while Sri Lanka has had to conciliation democratic norms more recently as a result of ethnic crisis. The two are even so considered relative success stories among Third World democracies. Pakistan and Bangladesh, predominantly the latter, have in the commencement of the 1990s witnessed sweeping democratic changeover in their domestic scenario. However, in a longer term standpoint, both of these countries have always been vacillation between military dominance in politics and democratic conducting tests. Nepal's transition to democracy is also perceived yet to be firmly rooted.
Bhutan has been go-getting to retain the authority of dominion as the dominant foundation, while the Maldives has been practising one-party rule and in due sense inconsistency in classes of people is manifested in values and ideology pursued in governance and statecraft. The Indian political system is professedly a blend of democracy, socialism and secularism, though these lofty ideals have remained far from fully translated into reality. Most significant is the recent trend towards increased influence of Hindu fundamentalism in Indian politics. Bangladesh started off with more or less same principles as the fundamentals in statecraft, but it later changed course towards increasing influence of religion, an issue on which a national harmony has yet to materialize. Pakistan has Islam as the basis of its opinionated system, while the Maldives is an Islamic culture with moderately less sway of religion in politics. Nepal remains under Hindu sway whilst Bhutan and Sri Lanka are Buddhist societies.
The argument as has been fashioned advantageously among the South Asian states is diverse too and as such the nature of the conflict between India and Sri Lankan is different from that of the conflict between India and Bangladesh, Pakistan or Nepal. Some conflicts are ethnic, others are religious, location or border related. For this reason India's insistence on bilateralism gets priority, and India takes advantages of settlement of those conflicts as per its wishes. One important dimension of the conflict is that all are Indo-centric. Pakistan has accepted the superior military strength of India; it has shown no readiness to curtail its freedom of action as an independent state. Although Bangladesh has limited scope of independence, for Nepal and Bhutan it is more difficult to resist or say anything at all about such regional security doctrine. For example, Sri Lanka failed to resist Indian hegemonic attitude when in 1977 the Jayewardene government opted for a free-market economy, making Sri Lanka increasingly receptive to western capital and technology. At that time the relationship with Pakistan improved dramatically. The Jayewardene government virtually tried to distance itself from India. India then took the opportunity of the Tamil separatist issue to put pressure on Sri Lanka. Apart from sheltering and arming the Tamil militants, the Indian ruling class blew out of proportion some of the features of Sri Lanka's relationship with United States and Pakistan. India cannot apply this type of hegemonic attitude towards Pakistan. For India, SAARC has been both a challenge as well as an opportunity.
In view of the above, it is evident that the challenge has lain in the communal pressures of the neighbours, and the chance in the potential of making the neighbours look inward, into the region, for their developmental and safety needs. India has pursued a two-pronged stratagem to press forward its regional targets through SAARC. One has been to slowly but surely push the growth and deepening of the Integrated Programme of Action so as to cover core economic areas like trade, industry and investment. The idea was to expand and consolidate infrastructure and social linkages at various levels in the midst of South Asian countries and to create a basis for interdependence. This in the long run could weaken the centrifugal tendencies of its neighbours and thus narrow down the discrepancy towards SAARC's ties with other regional organizations.
Kh. Atiar Rahman is a distinguished author and a poet. He has many publication in national and international media