Bhutan should stand its ground on SAARC CCI

The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI) secretariat based in Pakistan and Pakistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) are clearly working in cahoots to deny Bhutan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) its rightful chance be the next SAARC CCI President.

The SAARC CCI Presidency works on a rotation basis, and it was clearly Bhutan’s turn for a two-year term from 2020 to 2021 after the current incumbent Sri Lanka.

This is before the SAARC CCI and the FPCCI denied Bhutan this chance and instead announced that Pakistan would get a third term in 2020 when Bhutan has had only one term.

The SAARC CCI is supposed to be a neutral SAARC body representing all business chambers of the SAARC countries.

However, this action by the organization headquartered in Pakistan shows that it is not acting in a neutral manner and is giving a strong and unethical preference for Pakistan to the extent of even violating the very basis of SAARC.

SAARC was founded on the principal of equality of all SAARC states, irrespective of size and strength, which is why most posts and even venues for meetings rotate among the countries.

This is a clear attempt by Pakistan’s FPCCI and a biased SAARC CCI to muscle tiny Bhutan out of a rightful Presidency of SAARC CCI.

The Bhutanese government should stand behind BCCI and make it clear to SAARC CCI that Bhutan will pull out of it if the Presidency is not given to Bhutan.

Bhutan may be a small country but nobody should take it for granted in the region or on the wider international stage.

It should be made clear that there will be diplomatic repercussions for attempting to challenge Bhutan’s sovereign rights.

The government in support of BCCI should not only be ready to pull out but it must also bring the matter to the larger SAARC body, and ask if SAARC will now be run based on size and muscle.

In that case, Pakistan may as well bow out of all posts and responsibilities and let India run the SAARC, show since India is the biggest SAARC member.

Some Pakistani leaders and commentators in the past have ridiculed Bhutan with them claiming that they are ‘not Bhutan’ when it comes to dealing with India.

One could reply to them in great detail with what the Americans have done to them and continue to do to them and more so now with the Chinese. However, that debate will be for another time.

For now, the SAARC CCI stands on the precipice of losing all credibility and Pakistan’s FPCCI is not doing any favors to its country’s image.

The most essential quality for leadership is not perfection but credibility. People must be able to trust you.
Rick Warren

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