Experts at an international conference on Wednesday stressed the need for fast track available opportunities like easing visa facilities, opening up land routes for greater people-to-people contacts, student exchanges, border trade and other measures to improve and strengthen ties among South Asian countries.
They were of the view that South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member states should not keep the possible pending to solution of bigger problems which has stunted the growth of the alliance, said a press release.
Scholars from China, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and European Union are participating in the conference being organised by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute in collaboration with Hans Seidel Foundation (HSF).
Industrialist Dr Kamal Monnoo and Dr Pervez Tahir both in their addresses at the two-day international conference on “Towards an Asian Century: Future of Economic Cooperation in SAARC countries” held India-Pakistan relations responsible for keeping SAARC from its expected progress.
Monnoo spoke on regional trade as driver for economic growth. Dr S.K. Mohanty, Senior Research Fellow at RISDC of New Delhi dwelled on Intra-regional Investments and Arshi Saleem Hashmiod of National defence University, Islamabad spoke on regional transport and communication infrastructure.
In the second session Prof Savita Pande of the Jawahar Lal Nehru University talked at length on developing energy corridor from Central and West Asia to South Asia. She saw no early realisation of any of the gas pipeline projects.
China’s growing economic relations with south Asia were discussed by Dr Liu Zongyi of the Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies, Shanghai.
Nepal’s Dr Janak Lal Karmacharya spoke on potential for intra-regional trade.
Economist Tahir spoke on fast tracking economic collaboration in SAARC countries. The private sector’s views on economic collaboration in SAARC countries were expressed by Muhammad Ali, vice-president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Former ambassador Riaz Mohammad Khan was the chief guest. IPRI President Ambassador (retd) Sohail Amin and Kristof Duwaerts, Director HSF welcomed the participants and explained the objectives of the conference.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2013.
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