Pakistan leadership on Saturday made a pitch for what the key role Saarc’s can play in combating terror in the region, with President Zardari calling for making the regional grouping more proactive while Prime Minister Gilani urging ‘sincere efforts’ to implement the strategies agreed upon for the purpose.
“Regional cooperation is the only realistic way forward,” President Zardari said while talking to interior and home ministers of Saarc countries who called on him at the President House. “Saarc should be made more relevant and visible,” he stressed.
Stressing on the need for rising above national biases, Zardari said Saarc countries should join hands to identify and punish planners and executers of terrorist incidents, instead of resorting to the blame-game, which was counterproductive.
Focussing on regional cooperation and the establishment of transnational linkages, he said they were crucial for effectively combating terrorism.
“It is our national and collective responsibility to make sincere efforts and implement strategies to rid the South Asian region of terrorism and militancy.”
The president felicitated the ministers on the adoption of a unanimous declaration against terrorism, drug-trafficking and also for agreeing to facilitate journalists in their travel among member countries.
“Each act of terror reminds us of the gravity of the issue of terrorism which transcends national boundaries and considerations of ethnicity, religion and civilisations.”
He said that Pakistan “is opposed to all forms of terrorism regardless of where they originate or where they strike”.
Pakistan, the president said, has embarked upon a plan to reform its education sector as part of a long-term strategy to fight the militant mindset.
Earlier, addressing the Saarc interior ministers’ conference, Prime Minister Gilani said: “It is our national and collective responsibility to make sincere efforts and implement strategies to rid the region of this scourge.”
He welcomed adoption of the Islamabad declaration on countering terrorism, saying it would help herald peace in the region.
He stated that militancy can be eradicated best by establishing transnational linkages among the member states.
The prime minister said that regional cooperation in South Asia is the only realistic way forward.
He added that Pakistan will continue to attach high priority to Saarc’s objectives. Highlighting the importance of regional cooperation, Gilani told ministers that the region as a whole has the potential to overcome the development deficit by optimally utilising its vast natural and human resources which would make South Asia an engine of global economic growth.
He remarked “We need to develop a close cooperative regional approach on water issues including scientific studies on melting of glaciers and watershed management, for the improvement of our agriculture and economies.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2010.
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