An Analysis of Regional Integration in South Asia

  • Indraneel BaruahEmail author
Part of the United Nations University Series on Regionalism book series (UNSR, volume 17)


This chapter analyses the concept of regional integration in light of South Asia, which is one of the least integrated regions globally. It starts by examining regional integration in South Asia, and outlines why there has been no integration, and cooperation thus far. Subsequently, it posits that integration of the South-Asian region, or any other region for that matter, requires the collaboration, and good will of the key regional players. All regions which are integrated economically, or militarily, or both, require the cooperation between key regional players. This chapter sheds light on the prerequisites of regional integration in South Asia, if it were to materialise in the near or distant future. Furthermore, it scrutinises the regional organisation SAARC, and makes comparisons with other regional processes across the globe such as Europe, North America, and South East Asia with South-Asia. It highlights certain dynamics between India and Pakistan and assesses the role of regional powers in a regional integration process. The chapter postulates that outright hostility, or lack of cooperation and trust between key regional players severely impedes regional integration. It also briefly addresses the Kashmir conflict, which is a root cause of hostilities between India and Pakistan. As evidence indicates, for regional integration of South Asia to materialise, the resolution of this conflict is vital. This chapter concludes by assessing in light of the past and present dynamics in Kashmir, as well as the overall nature of bilateral relations between the regional powers, South Asia as a region is highly unlikely to witness integration, at least in the near future. Consequently, it sheds light on sub-regional organisations such as SASEC and BIMSTEC. It postulates that for South Asia to become a developed, industrialised and a positively peaceful society, the conflict between India and Pakistan needs resolution as a prerequisite, the odds for which are not too favourable.


South Asia Regional integration IR Internal factors External factors Conflict and security Free trade Cooperation Soft Hard and smart power 

Further Readings

  1. Abdullah, A. Y. (2011). South Asian hope SAARC, will it survive? Dhaka: Life and Hope Foundation.Google Scholar
  2. Ahmed, N. (1999). Trade liberalization in Bangladesh: An empirical investigation, A Ph.D. Thesis, University of Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
  3. Batliwalla, C.J. (1987). Financial cooperation in South Asia. ADB/EWC Symposium on regional cooperation in South Asia, Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines.Google Scholar
  4. de Mel, D. (2011). Trade facilitation issues in South Asia. Kathmandu: South Asia Centre for Policy Studies (SACEPS).Google Scholar
  5. Hill, C. W. L. (2007–2008). International business. Fifth Edition.Google Scholar
  6. Govindan, K. (1996). A South Asian preferential trading arrangement: Implications for regional trade in food commodities. Journal of Economic Integration, 11(4), 478–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Guru-Gharana, K. K. (2000). Macro-Economic modeling of South Asian economies with Intra-SAARC trade link . Final report- submitted to south Asian network of economic institutes. Nepal: IIDS.Google Scholar
  8. Hossain, M. M., & Vousden, N. (1996). Welfare effects of a discriminatory trading area in South Asia (Economic division working paper # 96/9). Canberra: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University.Google Scholar
  9. Naqvi, S. N. H., et al. (1988). Possibilities of regional trade expansion: A link model for Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In H. W. Singer et al. (Eds.), Challenges of south -south cooperation, (part II). New Delhi: Asia Publishing House.Google Scholar
  10. Quantification of Benefits from Economic Cooperation in South Asia. (2008). Report prepared under Asian Development Bank Technical Assistance TA 4780. Page no 55–59.Google Scholar


  1. Acharya, A. (2007). The emerging regional architecture of world politics: A review essay. World Politics, 59(4), 629–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Acharya, A. (2014a). Global International Relations (IR) and regional worlds: A new agenda for international studies. International Studies Quarterly, 58(4), 647–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Acharya, A. (2014b). Constructing a security community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the problem of regional order. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Acharya, A., & Johnston, A. I. (2007). Comparing regional institutions: An introduction. In A. Acharya & A. I. Johnston (Eds.), Crafting cooperation. Regional International institutions in comparative perspective (pp. 1–31). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Ahmed, Z. S. (2013). Regionalism and regional security in South Asia: The role of SAARC. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. Asian Development Bank. (2010). BIMSTEC transport infrastructure and logistics study TA completion reports November 2010, viewed on 25 July 2017,
  7. Baba, N. A. (2012). Democracy and governance in Kashmir. In N. A. Khan (Ed.), The parchment of Kashmir. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  8. Bose, S., & Jalal, A. (2011). Modern South Asia: History, culture, political economy. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Calder, K. E., & Fukuyama, F. (Eds.). (2008). EastAsian multilateralism: Prospects for regional stability. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Camroux, D. F. (2010). Interregionalism or merely a fourth-level game? An examination of the EU-ASEAN relationship. East Asia, 27(1), 57–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Camroux, D. F. (2011). Interregionalism, a critique: The four levels of EU-ASEAN relations. In A. Warleigh-Lack, N. Robinson, & B. Rosamond (Eds.), New regionalism and the European Union. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Central Intelligence Agency. (1964, April 22). Sheikh Abdullah and the Kashmir Issue, Special Report.
  13. Chari, P., Cheema, P., & Cohen, S. (2003). Perception, politics and security in South Asia: The compound crisis of 1990. London: Routledge Curzon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cohen, S. (2013). Shooting for a century: The India-Pakistan conundrum. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  15. Dash, K. (2008). Regionalism in South Asia: Negotiating cooperation, institutional structures. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davis, Z. (2011). The India-Pakistan military standoff: Crisis and escalation in South Asia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. DeVotta, N. (2015). An introduction to South Asian politics, routledge. London: Taylor & Francis.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dossani, R., Sneider, D., & Sood, V. (2010). Does South Asia exist? Stanford: Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.Google Scholar
  19. Ernest, J. W. (2008). Hard power, soft power, smart power. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 616(1), 110–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fawn, R. (2009). Globalising the regional, regionalising the global: Volume 35. Review of international studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fidler, D., & Ganguly, S. (2010). India and Eastphalia. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, 17(1), 147–164. Article 7. Available at: Scholar
  22. Fox, V., & Allyn, R. (2008). Revolution of hope: The life, faith, and dreams of a Mexican president. New York: Penguin Group USA.Google Scholar
  23. Francois, J., Rana, P., & Wignaraja, G. (2009). National strategies for regional integration: South and East Asian case studies. London: Anthem Press.Google Scholar
  24. Galtung, J. (1969). Violence, peace, and peace research. Journal of Peace Research, 6(3), 167–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ganguly, S. (2004). The Kashmir question: Retrospect and prospect. London: Routledge/Frank Cass.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ganguly, S. (2006). South Asia. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Ganguly, S. (2013). Conflict unending: India-Pakistan tensions since 1947. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Ganguly, S. (2016). Deadly impasse: Indo-Pakistani relations at the dawn of a new century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ganguly, S., & Thompson, W. (2011). Asian rivalries: Conflict, escalation, and limitations on two-level games (Stanford security series). Stanford: Stanford Security Studies.Google Scholar
  30. Glickhouse, R. (2012). Explainer: An alphabet soup of Regional Integration Organisations. Washington, DC: Americas Society/Council of the Americas, 22nd March [online], viewed on 17 April 2017.
  31. Hagerty, D. T. (2005). South Asia in world politics. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  32. Hakeem, A. (2014). Paradise on fire: Syed Ali Geelani and the struggle for freedom in Kashmir. Markfield: Kube Publishers.Google Scholar
  33. Hlatky, S. V. (2012). Strategies and mechanisms of regional change. In T. V. Paul (Ed.), International relations theory and regional transformation (pp. 283–298). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ikenberry, G. J. (2004). American hegemony and East Asian order. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 58(3), 353–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ikenberry, G. J. (2006). Liberal order and imperial ambition: Essays on American power and international order. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  36. International Crimes Tribunal. (2013). ICT[2]-BD Case No. 03 of 2013 Judgement Summary. Chief Prosecutor Vs Mir Quasem Ali. Website: 1. International Crimes Tribunal-2 (ICT-2). [Tribunal constituted under section 6 (1) of the Act No. XIX of 1973]. Old High Court Building, Dhaka, Bangladesh. ICT-BD Case No. 03 of 2013. [Charges: crimes against Humanity and aiding & complicity to commit such crimes as specified in section 3(2)(a)(g)(h) of the Act No. XIX of 1973] viewed on 27 July 2017,
  37. Jetschke, A. (2009). Institutionalizing ASEAN: Celebrating Europe through network governance. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 22(3), 407–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jokela, J. (2009). The European Union as an international actor: Europeanization and institutional changes in the light of the EU’s Asia policies. In B. Gaens, J. Jokela, & E. Limnell (Eds.), The role of the European Union in Asia: China and India as strategic partners (pp. 37–53). Franham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  39. Katzenstein, P. J. (2005). A world of regions: Asia and Europe in the American imperium. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Katzenstein, P. J., & Okawara, N. (2002). Japan, Asian-Pacific security, and the case for analytical eclecticism. International Security, 26(3), 153–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Keohane, R. O. (1984). After hegemony: Cooperation and discord in the world political economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Lenz, T. (2008). Problematizing the EU’s model export to Mercosur: Strategies and motivations. Paper presented at the GARNET conference on the European Union in International Affairs, Brussels, 24–26 April.Google Scholar
  43. Lockwood, D. E. (1969). Sheikh Abdullah and the politics of Kashmir. Asian Survey, 9(5), 382–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Murray, P. (2010). Comparative regional integration in the EU and East Asia: Moving beyond integration snobbery. International Politics, 47(3–4), 308–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Najam, A., & Yusuf, M. (2013). South Asia 2060: Envisioning regional futures. London: Anthem Press.Google Scholar
  46. Nye, J. S., Jr. (Ed.). (1968). International regionalism: Readings. Boston: Little, Brown and Co.Google Scholar
  47. Nye, J. S., Jr. (1990). Soft power. Foreign Policy, (80), 153–171.Google Scholar
  48. Nye, J. S., Jr. (2004). Soft power: The means to success in world politics. New York: PublicAffairs.Google Scholar
  49. Nye, J. S., Jr. (2008). Public diplomacy and soft power. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 616(1), 94–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nye, J. S., Jr. (2009). Get smart: Combining hard and soft power. Foreign Affairs, 88, 160–163.Google Scholar
  51. Nye, J. S., Jr. (2011). The future of power. New York: PublicAffairs.Google Scholar
  52. Paul, R. B. (2010). Routledge handbook of South Asian politics: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  53. Paul, T. V. (2012). International relations theory and regional transformation. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Razzaque, M., & Basnett, Y. (Eds.). (2014). Regional integration in South Asia: Trends, challenges and prospects. London: Commonwealth Secretariat.Google Scholar
  55. Rosamond, B. (2005). Conceptualising the EU model of governance in world politics. European Foreign Affairs Review, 10(4), 463–478.Google Scholar
  56. Rosamond, B., & Alex, W. L. (2011). Studying regions comparatively: Back to the future? London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Ruland, J., & Jetschke, A. (2008). 40 years of ASEAN: Perspectives, performance and lessons for change. The Pacific Review, 21(4), 397–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. S/RES/47. (1948). viewed on 27 July 2017, Available at:
  59. Saez, L. (2012). The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC): An emerging collaboration architecture. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  60. Schaffer, H. B., & Schaffer, T. C. (2005). Kashmir: Fifty years of running in place. In Crocker, Hampson, & Aall (Eds.), Grasping the Nettle: Analysing the cases of intractable conflicts (pp. 295–318). Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.Google Scholar
  61. Schofield, V. (2003). Kashmir in conflict: India, Pakistan and the unending war. London: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  62. Severino, R. (2008). ASEAN (Southeast Asia background series 10). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, ISEAS.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Shastri, A., & Wilson, A. (2013). The post-colonial states of South Asia: Political and constitutional problems. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sheikh, M. A. (1965, April 1). Kashmir, India and Pakistan. Foreign Affairs, 43(3).;
  65. Sil, R., & Katzenstein, P. (2010). Analytic eclecticism in the study of world politics: Reconfiguring problems and mechanisms across research traditions. Perspectives on Politics, 8(2), 411–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Slaughter, A. M. (2009, January/February). America’s edge: Power in the networked century. Foreign Affairs, 88, 94–113.Google Scholar
  67. Snidal, D. (1985). The limits of hegemonic stability theory. International Organization, 39(4), 579–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Stanley Foundation and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Swedish School of Advanced Asia Pacific Studies of The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education. (2008). Challenges to effective multilateralism: Comparing Asian and European experiences. Sigtuna.Google Scholar
  69. Tharoor, S. (2012). Pax indica: India and the world in the 21st century. New Delhi: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  70. The Indian Express. (2016). SAARC summit postponed after India’s boycott, viewed on 16 July 2018,
  71. The World Bank. (2018). Intra regional trade South Asia, viewed on 1 September 2018,
  72. Van Langenhove, L. (2013). Building regions: The regionalization of world order. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar
  73. Wendt, A. (1992). Anarchy is what states make of it: The social construction of power politics. International Organization, 46(2), 391–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Widmalm, S. (2014). Kashmir in comparative perspective: Democracy and violent separatism in India. London: Routledge/Curzon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wirsing, R. G. (1994). India, Pakistan and the Kashmir dispute. New York: St Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  76. Wong, R. (2012). Model power or reference point? The EU and the ASEAN charter. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 25(4), 669–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Zielonka, J. (2008). Europe as a global actor: Empire by example? International Affairs, 84(3), 471–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Governance and Global AffairsLeiden UniversityThe HagueThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations