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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

'SAARC must work asregional association,not country specific'

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  Patiala, October 17, 2013
First Published: 20:06 IST(17/10/2013) | Last Updated: 21:57 IST(17/10/2013)

With South Asian nations facing domination by western countries, delegates from Pakistan, India and Afghanistan on Thursday pressed on strengthening the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to keep the western powers at bay.

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Speaking at a seminar on 'Exit of NATO Forces from Afghanistan and its Impact on India and Pakistan' here on Thursday, delegates were of view that it should be made obligatory for governments and military organisations of various countries to ensure peace at international borders and in their countries as well.

The one-day seminar was organised by the Folklore Research Academy (FRA), Amritsar, in association with the Akhil Bhartiya Rachnatmak Samaj to mark the 84th birth anniversary of peace crusader Nirmala Deshpande at Harpal Tiwana Performing Arts Academy here.

On the occasion, well-known peace crusader and executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Karamat Ali was honoured with Didi Nirmala Deshpandey memorial award.

Addressing the seminar, Karamat Ali said for lasting peace and friendly relations, it was paramount for the South Asian countries to stand united and jointly face each other's problems.

"America's decision to withdraw forces from Afghanistan may pose huge challenges, but it can be mitigated by strengthening of the Saarc. The Saarc should work as region organisation, and not a single country's organisation," he added.

Karamat further said: "The South Asian countries should adopt austerity measures like signing of no war pact, nuclear weapon-free South Asian zone, deduction of expenditure on purchasing of weapons, to give fundamental rights to people who have migrated from one Saarc nation to another and relaxing visa norms for South Asian countries' people in order to ensure peace and stability in the region.

On the occasion, several other experts - including South Asian affairs expert Qumur Agha; Ahmad Fahim Hakim from Kabul University; Sarfraz Ahmad from Peshawar University; Sucha Singh Gill, director general, Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID); and Kamal Mitra - expressed their opinions.

 'Malala deserves more than Nobel Peace prize'
Speaking over Malala Yousafzai - known for her activism for rights to education and for women, especially in the Swat Valley - missing the Noble Peace award, Karamat Ali said: "It's good that she didn't win the prize, which is named after a person, Alfred Bernhard Nobel, a chemical engineer, who had creator of dynamite and played important role in the making bofors."

"Malala is like my daughter, and she actually works for peace and rights of people. She deserves more than a Noble Peace prize," he added.

"We have recommended the abolition of Noble Peace Prize, as there are many others, who have actually worked for peace and whose names the peace awards should be named," he said.

Malala Yousafzai, a 16-year-schoolgirl, was shot at by Taliban terrorist in Swat valley, Pakistan, in 2012, for speaking for the rights to education for girls and women's rights. Later she was airlifted to Britain for surgery, and fortunately she survived to tell her tale.

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