Saarc fails to reach goal
Saarc countries have failed to live up to the main purpose of the South Asian platform, speakers told a press conference yesterday.
Civil society members, academia, and development and women rights activists from South Asian countries participated in the conference.
People's Saarc organised it at the Jatiya Press Club in the city marking the two-day international seminar “Envisioning new South Asia: People's perspective” held on January 18-19 in Dhaka.
The speakers said regional unity can be a good beginning to find solutions and alternatives to common problems in this region.
Sarba Raj Khadka from Nepal said Saarc failed to meet its objectives totally; Saarc and its secretariat were playing ineffective role and all they did was to arrange a 'picnic' every two years.
The participants also expressed their concern over climate change, regional conflicts, militancy, religious extremism, rising sectarian and terrorist violence, and existing poverty in South Asia.
Although Safta (South Asian Free Trade Area) has been in place since the 1980s, formal trade within the region is still negligible, they said.
Intra-regional trade can be a vehicle for pro-poor and equitable growth, only when such trade includes equitable growth both within the region and between countries, they added.
Jiten Babu Desai from India said South Asian governments need to cut military expenses and ensure labour rights.
The speakers said climate change is the critical issue throughout the region with coastal and mountainous communities facing the greatest threat.
Climate justice is closely linked with the more fundamental question of poverty, deprivation, and skewed development, they added.
Representatives from different organisations and countries including Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Pakistan took part in the news conference.