Zahid Shahab Ahmed. Regionalism and Regional Security in South Asia: The Role of SAARC, (Routledge, 2016, 242 Pages)
The book under review is an invaluable effort to evaluate the role of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for maintaining regional security. It is very appropriate and substantial in its own way, specifically when people are more skeptical about the absolute presence of the organization than its style of functioning. Such skepticism often created questions about its survival, since uncertain bilateral relations between the major powers of South Asia are a foremost complication to an actual and effective regional organization.
The book starts where the skeptics left off, by highlighting that SAARC can overstate cause of South Asian regionalism because the organization has gone through a retro of transition from agreement to action. This means it can keep regionalism rather than regionalization in observance, without even looking into areas of bilateral disgruntlement. The book’s central argument focuses on the innumerable issues related to human security of the region and its member states. The author has adopted a functional approach in order to investigate the various SAARC member countries, such as India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, The Maldives, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The book is important not only for security analysts and strategists, but essentially for non-governmental agencies and students researching into regionalism and regional security.
The author succeeds in conveying the idea to readers that South Asian countries must regain the regional security in non-conventional areas in order to merge as a force, so as to challenge the security threats, malnutrition poverty, and other issues which pose a grave challenge to the national security and the sovereignty of SAARC’s member states.
The book presents realistic and first-hand information to help readers understand in a precise and clear manner the importance of regionalism in South Asia. Zahid Shahab Ahmed is to be commended for reviving and raising interest for the experiential mode of investigation in his security-related study even though the book is limited in terms of turning rhetoric into action. The process of regionalism is tied up with the internal institutional preparations of the member states. Therefore, a more realistic analysis of multilateral collaboration turned into credible expanded regional amalgamation would perhaps indicate a more pronounced view of the changing dynamics.
Nonetheless, Ahmed’s book is praise worthy for presenting such proportions around the potential challenges and threats, as well as for recommending the necessary measures for those aspiring to work on the regional security in South Asia.