The 53rd meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Programming Committee began on 1 February 2017 in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The two-day meet held at joint secretary level is aimed at discussing budget allocation to the five SAARC regional centres and special bodies and their annual programme.
The meeting marks a revival of the bloc’s processes, following the postponing of the body’s 19th Summit that was scheduled to be held in Pakistan in November 2016. The Summit was boycotted by India following escalating tensions with Pakistan with other member states including Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh also following suit.
It ended with Pakistan, the host nation announcing the postponement of the meet, which lead to complete closure of communication between all the member states and no further meetings and engagements were convened.
According to officials, the programming committee meeting was kept with the expectation that it would reduce the tension between India and Pakistan and help resume regular SAARC functioning, paving way for higher-level meetings in near future. The first day of the meeting according to latest reports went smoothly, with officials from both India and Pakistan being very accommodative and flexible.
The Programming Committee meeting is conducted at the lowest level below the SAARC standing committee meeting, which is attended by Foreign Secretaries of the member nations and SAARC Council of Ministers meeting, which is held at Foreign Ministers level.