India, Pak differ on SAARC development
Differences in approaches of India and Pak were evident as nations expressed concern over the bloc not having achieved full potential.Updated: Jan 05, 2004 14:45 IST
Differences in approaches of India and Pakistan were evident on Sunday as SAARC countries expressed concern over the regional-bloc not having achieved its full potential and called for greater economic co-operation for poverty alleviation.
The landmark 12th summit of the group opened with a call from Pakistan for overcoming of political differences for economic growth in the South Asian region.
Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, in his inaugural address, emphasised that political disputes needed to be addressed "in a just and realistic manner" failing which ideas like a common economic and monetary union would remain a distant dream.
Taking a line which was in variance with that of Jamali, Vajpayee however said that development of greater economic stakes would "naturally result in greater sensitivity to the concerns of each other".
This would pave the way for "the more ambitious, but entirely achievable" goals such as free trade area, an economic union and open borders and a common currency for the region, he said.
Bhutanese Premier Lyonpo Jigmi Y Thinley said SAARC had reached a plateau as "problems and intended solutions come to us with a sense of 'deja vu'.
He described economic cooperation as the core basis Of SAARC and hoped work on various components of the proposed free trade area will be completed at the earliest possible".
Nepal: Nepal on Sunday congratulated the leaders of India and Pakistan for their peace efforts saying improvement of relations among them would provide an impetus to the process of cooperation among the SAARC nations.
Congratulating Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for their peace moves and farsightedness, Nepalese Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa said the improvement of relations between the two nations would "lead to relaxation of tension in the region and provide a new and meaningful impetus to cooperation among SAARC countries".
He sought collective efforts by SAARC nations to combat the menace and stressed upon the "need to act resolutely" against it after the Additional Protocol on terrorism was adopted by the Summit.
Maldives: Maldives on Sunday made a strong plea for security cooperation among SAARC countries and asked them to seek observer status in the United Nations as a regional grouping.
"As we are signing the protocol against terrorism, is it not possible to have regional security cooperation also as a common interest rather than a contentious issue," asked Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom while addressing the 12ht SAARC Summit here.
He also suggested that SAARC nations should collectively seek an observer status in the United Nations in order to "enhance credibility as a regional grouping".
Gayoom voiced concern over the low volume of intra- regional trade among the countries of the region and said efforts should be made to move towards a South Asia Economic Union, while pointing out that trade should "not only be free but equitable also".
Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka on Sunday said the reduction of tension between India and Pakistan has provided renewed impetus to regional Association for economic development.
"Reduction of tension between the two larger states in our region gives us great strength", President Chandrika Kumaratunga said in her address to the 12th SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Summit here.
Bhutan who has launched a military operation to flush out Indian insurgents from its soil, on Sunday said all terrorist leaders had been apprehended and called for the immediate implementation of the new protocol on suppression of terrorism in the region.
The Additional Protocol to the Regional Convention on Suppression of terrorism to be signed during this summit should not only be given effect but also implemented to eliminate the menace, Bhutanese Premier Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley said here.
Addressing the 12th SAARC summit, he said the recent attempt to assassinate Pakistan President Pervez Musharaff was a rude reminder of the need to root out terrorism.
He said "all leaders (of those who had launched insurgency in Indian states of Assam and West Bengal) had been apprehended, others had surrendered or were finding their way out, hopefully to live peacefully in their own country".
First Published: Jan 04, 2004 17:05 IST