After its two diplomatic communications with Pakistan and a promise made by the country at the Saarc working group meeting failed to evoke a positive response, India has now planned to step up heat on its neighbour to pay its share for the South Asian University (SAU), a joint project of all South Asian countries, officials familiar with the development said.
The university is operational since 2010 in New Delhi and Pakistan is the only nation in the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation group which is yet to make any financial contribution, an official said requesting anonymity.
New Delhi now plans to raise the issue again at the Saarc working committee meeting, board meeting of the SAU besides taking the matter up bilaterally.
Pakistan had agreed to foot 11.83% of the operational cost as against India’s 51.8% share.
At the meeting of the SAU board on November 28, 2016 in Dhaka, Pakistan was urged to clear the US$7,850,000 dues and the matter was later discussed at the Saarc working council meeting in February in Kathmandu.
During the same period, all other countries in Saarc made the contribution, an official pointed out. In a reply to the MEA, Pakistan through a note verbale dated February 21, 2017, said it would soon make the payment.
With no luck, Indian High Commission in Islamabad again took up the matter with Pakistan foreign ministry on August 2, 2017. The matter was again taken up during another working committee meeting of the Saarc.
Another Indian official said the government has now earmarked another ~260 for the completion of the SAU’s new campus at Maidan Garhi.
“But the issue here is that yet another Saarc initiative is running into an obstinate Pakistan,” the second official said, referring to an earlier South Asia connectivity plan that had run into Pakistan’s resistance so was the SAARC satellite project.
A Pakistan High Commission spokesperson in New Delhi didn’t reply to HT’s queries till the filing of the report.
Once it is fully operational, the SAU will have 12 post-graduate science and non-science faculties, as well as Faculty of Undergraduate Studies. At full strength, the SAU will have 7000 students and 700 teachers. A flagship Institute of South Asian Studies will also be established in the University.
Students of the University will be predominantly from the eight SAARC countries.
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