Pakistan is yet to pay $5.559 million (about Rs 36.23 crore) of its contribution towards Delhi-based South Asian University, undermining in the process the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc). Repeated requests by India and other Saarc member states over the past few years nudged Pakistan to start paying up, but so far it has cleared only 28.77% of its dues, ET has learnt.
The external affairs ministry recently informed parliamentary standing committee on external affairs that Pakistan had on December 18, 2017, handed over to India a cheque of $2.259 million, as “part payment of its overdue operational contribution”. Pakistan has assured that it would pay the remaining amount, the ministry told the standing committee.
India and six other Saarc members had in early 2017 sent a stern message to Pakistan, asking it to immediately pay the accumulated amount of $7.85 million as its contribution to the South Asian University, officials in Delhi said.
Before Pakistan made its first payment towards its dues in December, it was the only member of the Saarc which had not contributed any amount for running the varsity which started functioning from 2010.
As per the April 4, 2007 intergovernmental agreement for setting up the university, the eight member nations would share the recurring costs for running the institution.
Pakistan’s dilly-dallying on payment was in sync with its “general policy of resisting all initiatives by the Saarc”, which indicates its lack of commitment to regional cooperation in South Asia, officials in Delhi said. The Pakistan government has in the past blocked other Saarc initiatives including proposals for road and rail connectivity in the region as well as for counterterrorism cooperation among the eight member nations.