Feat: Vajpayee, Pervez shake hands under war clouds
Held in Kathmandu about three and a half years after it was originally planned, the 11th SAARC summit did revive the hope of peace and prosperity in the region despite global upheaval post 9/11 and the growing Indo-Pak tensions post Dec 13 Parliament attack.india Updated: Dec 17, 2003 17:46 IST
Held in Kathmandu about three and a half years after it was originally planned, the 11th SAARC summit did revive the hope of peace and prosperity in the region despite global upheaval post 9/11 and the growing Indo-Pak tensions post Dec 13 Parliament attack.
That the summit happened irrespective of US attack on Afghanistan, uncertainties in Pakistan, war clouds at Indo-Pak border and the state of emergency in Nepal, was an achievement in itself.
But those moments of Pak ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf and Indian premier Atal Bihari Vajpayee shaking hands made the event historical. Those moments, captured on camera and flashed across the globe, did go a long way in reassuring the world about the wisdom of SAARC leaders and the region's overwhelming desire for peace and progress.
The Unofficial talks between India-Pak foreign ministers and officials was the additional breakthrough.
The 56-point Kathmandu declaration issued at the end of the summit was generally another pledge for achieving socio-economic transformation in the region. The thrust was laid on the effective implementation.
SAFTA, poverty alleviation, fight against terror and SAARC award topped the priority list in the declaration.
All the leaders condemned terrorism and called for concrete steps against it.
The signing of SAARC 'convention on preventing and combating trafficking of women and girls for prostitution on January 5, 2002, that sought uniform SAARC laws on the issue, was yet another milestone of the summit.
The convention aon promotion of the interests of children in south Asia was also signed at the summit. It stressed charting special regional programmes on edication, nutrition and health of the children, who account for more than 40 per cent of the total population of this region. The SAARC members were required to integrate such programmes with their national programmes and give them top priority.