Pak, India tensions-SAARC Chamber no more functional

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DNA

ISLAMABAD, AUG 24 –  The diplomatic and political brawl between Pakistan and India has reportedly paralyzed SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI) as the Association has barred Pakistan from using its nomenclature being a suspended body.

Pakistan’s renowned businessman and Chairman UBG Iftikhar Ali Malik, has been nominated the President of SAARC CCI after an agreement between the incumbent President FPCCI Anjum Nisar and former President Daroo Khan Achakzai at the Supreme Court level.

Only July 6, 2020, Fazulrahman Rahmani, Director, HRT, SAARC Secretariat wrote a letter to the heads of the SAARC recognised regional apex bodies saying that according to SAARC guidelines and procedures, their recognition status has expired.

The recognition of 24 bodies (six apex bodies and 18 recognized bodies) has expired while previously, SAARC bodies used to continue their working as per schedule despite expiry of recognition but this is the first time, they have been barred from functioning.

According to the letter, in terms of guidelines and procedures for granting/ renewal of recognition by SAARC to the ‘SAARC recognized regional apex bodies’, the Standing Committee is the competent SAARC body to take a decision on this matter. Given the fact, the status of recognition of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is no more valid beyond its date of expiry and stands pending until the competent body of SAARC meets and considers the matter relating to the Chamber, including the question of renewal of recognition.

SAARC Secretariat has asked SAARC CCI to discontinue its activities under the nomenclature of SAARC until its status of recognition is renewed by the competent body of SAARC.

The sources said, the competent body means the Secretaries of Foreign Affairs of member countries, adding that the issue cannot be resolved until their meeting is not held. However, there is no indication that India will agree on early meeting of the apex body.

Pakistan’s relevant entity, sources said, recently wrote a couple of letters to the concerned authorities of SAARC, showing concern on delaying tactics on the part of some office holders of the organization.

Iftikhar Malik along with a delegation also met with Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and sought his help to resolve the issue. There are also reports that the SAARC CCI is collecting fee for SAARC sticker in dollars from businessmen despite the fact the organization’s license has expired.

SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been enjoying the Apex Status of SAARC since 1992, has been playing a vital role for the economic integration of the South Asian region.

“The due date of the next SAARC Standing Committee meeting is uncertain and a meeting of the SAARC Standing Committee has not been held since 2016, over the past four years. As a responsible and well reputed institution, the SAARC CCI is not in a position to discontinue its activities for an uncertain period of time.

Moreover, the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry has invested PKR 600 crores on its Permanent Headquarters in Islamabad. With work in progress and certain contractual obligations signed under the SAARC nomenclature, it may drag the SAARC CCI and its leadership in unnecessary legal complications and litigations process.”

However Pakistan has requested the concerned authorities to allow SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry to operate under SAARC patronage and nomenclature to carry forward agenda of regional integration within the ambit of SAARC Charter, Constitution of SAARC CCI and the Guidelines and Procedure for Apex bodies, till next meeting of standing committee. DNA

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