Leaders discuss common problem areas, to work towards solutions

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: Nov 27, 2014 00:21 IST

The 18th Saarc Summit kicked off in Kathmandu on Wednesday with Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, handing over the chairperson’s chair to Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.“Time has come for us to decide what kind of Saarc we want to pass on to posterity,” Koirala said.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif cited the example of this year’s monsoon floods to highlight the importance of cross-border information sharing and early flood forecasting systems. He also offered to host the 19th summit in Islamabad.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani spoke about the problems faced by his country due to terrorism both within and from across the border. Without directly naming Pakistan, Ghani stressed that his government won’t allow his country to be used against any of Afghanistan’s neighbours.

“Human rights should be a moral and ethical concept. However, we are witnessing motivated political agendas being thrust by extra-regional forces in our region in the guise of human rights,” said Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, referring to allegations of human rights violations against Lankan forces during the war against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen and Bhutan PM Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay both highlighted the problems faced by their nations due to global warming and climate change.

“The risks are so grave that, for Bangladesh, climate change may wipe out 2 to 3% of our annual GDP including displacement of nearly 30 million people by 2050,” said Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina.

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