Cross-border Infrastructure

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka formally adopted the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Charter on 8 December 1985. SAARC provides a platform for the people of South Asia to work together to accelerate the process of economic and social development. Afghanistan was invited to become a member of SAARC during the 13th SAARC Summit in November 2005.


In preparatory meetings prior to the first summit, members identified nine areas of cooperation under an Integrated Programme of Action (IPA) – agriculture; health and population activities; meteorology; postal services; rural development; science and technology; sports, arts and culture; telecommunications; and transport. At the 12th SAARC Summit in 2004, the Council of Ministers approved the restructuring of core areas. Under a new Regional Integrated Programme of Action (RIPA), the Technical Committees (TCs) were reorganized into seven: agriculture and rural development; environment and forestry; health and population activities; human resource development; science and technology and meteorology; transport; and women, youth and children. Also, five new Working Groups were created to focus on biotechnology, energy, information and communications technology (ICT), and tourism.