The future of SAARC seems bleak, with Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nepal in economic limbo, and Afghanistan under Islamist Taliban control. This leaves India with little choice but to engage in bilateral engagement with its neighbours in order to protect its national security. Ironically, the Taliban in Afghanistan are currently embroiled in a simmering war with their tutor, the Pakistan Army, which refuses to recognise the Durand Line, which splits the Pashtun tribe between the two countries.
- Pakistan Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif is confronting a full-blown economic crisis and does not have a magic wand to miraculously address the country’s various problems, despite the fact that Imran Khan Niazi has been booted out of office, putting a stop to the political upheaval.
- Afghanistan is ruled by a hardline Islamist Taliban administration eight years after the last summit, with a total budget of $2.6 billion for the current fiscal year.
- The country is on the verge of famine and disease as the ISI-backed Haqqani Network, led by global terrorist Sirajuddin Haqqani, battles the Kandahar Taliban, led by Mullah Omar’s son Yaqub, for control of Kabul.
- The country is on life support, with its primary international exports being terrorism and narcotics.
On September 18, 2016, the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed assaulted the Uri Brigade headquarters, killing 19 Indian Army troopers and injuring another two scores. All SAARC countries except Nepal, the chair, walked out of the summit with India.