The goals, problems and prospects of Afghanistan's participation in SAARC
The article deals with the goals, problems and prospects of Afghanistan's participation in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – the problem that has not yet received sufficient coverage in domestic studies. The purpose of the study is to find out why the potential of Afghanistan's participation in the SAARC has not yet been fully realized.
The study is relevant because South Asia is one of the most dynamically developing regions in the world while its only integration grouping, the SAARC, is yet unable to upgrade regional cooperation, the case of Afghanistan's participation in this union being the most spectacular one. The admission in 2007 of such a "troubled" country as Afghanistan to SAARC which is an association, between the member states of which by that time there were already unresolved internal problems and contradictions (historical, territorial, political, etc.) was a highly controversial move. In admitting Afghanistan to SAARC, the member countries were partly guided by its high economic and transit potential, without taking into account its domestic situation, economic realities and unpredictable future. However, the country's participation in this union could have somewhat improved the situation if SAARC's activity were not undermined by incessant internal disputes and had well-developed institutions, as well as effective mechanisms of resolving the existing differences and mutual grievances between some particular member states. Meanwhile, due to the fact that SAARC remains a kind of "discussion club", Afghanistan's membership in this association will not be able to change its position for the better, as well as the expected probable benefits from the country's participation in the Association (such as high transit potential and large internal market) cannot be fully used by other members of this association. The author concludes that SAARC assumed an unbearable burden by admitting Afghanistan, which was not ready for integration.
SAARC, Afghanistan, regional integration, integration grouping, instability.
Ninel Gulam
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