EIGHTEENTH SAARC-Y SUMMIT
A KATHMANDUBIOUS DECLARATION
“Deeper integration for peace and property”
The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, His Excellency Mr Ashraf ‘proxy-server-settings-are-wrong’ Ghani; the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Her Excellency Sheikh ‘where-be-the-peeps’ Hasina; the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan, His Excellency Mr Tshering ‘militantly-happy’ Tobgay; the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, His Excellency Mr Narendra ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ Modi; the President of the Republic of Maldives, His Excellency Mr Abdulla ‘walk-the-line’ Gayoom; the Prime Minister of Nepal, His Excellency Mr Sushil ‘carry on’ Koirala; the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, His Excellency Nawaz ‘party-pooper’ Sharif; and the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Mr Mahinda ‘what-human-rights?’ Rajapaksa met in Kathmandu, suspiciously clean and suddenly bereft of stray dogs, on 26-27 November 2014 for the Eighteenth Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Recognising that the summit remains a platform for specious rhetoric and empty gestures;
Welcoming words like ‘cooperation’, ‘confidence-building’, ‘culture’ and ‘connectivity’ effectively hollowed out so that they have no meaning whatsoever;
Grateful that issues such as climate change and cross-border terrorism exist so that we have at least a few things that we can pretend to agree on;
Deeply desirous of relaxing trade barriers and doing away with the whole damn problem of labour. And yet also, somehow, deeply committed to poverty alleviation, whatever that means;
Anxious that Modi has become the class president, school bully, quarterback and the cheerleader of the region all at once;
Conscious that Nawaz Sharif was treated like the boy who was only invited to the party because your mother forced you to. Not only that, he insists on bringing his Chinese friend along and is making it difficult to exchange gifts;
Uncertain whether Mahinda Rajpaksa knows how this human-rights thing works. Furthermore, one doesn’t bury a corpse and then point to it;
Finally comprehending the secret of the Gross Happiness Index. It can only go up once Mr Togbay stops speaking (notwithstanding his hat tip to Mother Jones);
Grudgingly noting that President Ghani has tried to raise the bar by speaking of the “legitimate monopoly of force by the states” and the “rationale for the genesis of the symbiotic relations” between state and non-state actors;
Relieved that Sushil Koirala, wheezing with his slowly diminishing voice, still managed to carry us till the end;
Do hereby declare:
All of this will be carried over to the next summit.