Published Date: Dec 14, 2012
KAIRA CALLS FOR WORKABLE SOLUTIONS TO ADDRESS CROSS-BORDER CONFLICTS AND THREATS
Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, Thursday called for workable regional solutions to address cross-border conflicts and threats posed by natural disasters along with gaps in demand and supply of energy and water resources.
“To achieve these goals, all South Asian countries have to give respect each other’s rights and responsibilities,” the Minister said while speaking at the concluding session of the conference on “Sustainable Development in South Asia: Shaping the Future” organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
The Minister said that the region must address the prevailing policy hindrances to development which include Decentralization without democracy, democracy without Decentralization, and lastly the growth without development. He said only equitable rural and urban growth can ensure the sustainable development in the region. “Pakistan is engaged with India in all sincerity and relaxed the trade terms along with liberalised visa policy. It gives us immense pleasure to say that India has also reciprocated and has now allowed foreign direct investment from Pakistan. Together India and Pakistan can ensure successful implementation of Saarc Charter as well,” he added.
Highlighting the commitment of the federal government towards the issues of food insecurity and climate change, he mentioned that “creation of dedicated ministries on food security and climate change manifests our resolve in this direction.” Speaking at the conference, Nadeemul Haq, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission of Pakistan said that real problems for growth and development are not resources, but the real problem lies in public sector management, lack of efficient markets, non-uniform growth and non-development of social and human capital. He called upon government to increase research funding for better and independent policy input. He informed that recent studies have shown that major part of our population has been urbanised so there is need to focus on cities and make urban centers as engine of growth.
Dr Ishrat Husain, former Governor State Bank and Dean Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi while chairing a session said that growth is strongly conflated with agriculture output and employment shares in developing Asia. He was of the view that vicious circle of economic disparity and poverty can only be broken only if governance and institutions are set right. Moreover, if Pakistan grows between 6-7 percent annually it can create enough jobs to absorb new entrants to labour force.
Dr Mahendra P.Lama, Founding Vice Chancellor, Central University of Sikkim, India said that interdependence in South Asia is very critical as nations cannot treat and address economic and ecological challenges alone. Suggesting way forward, he said that the challenge is to generate a critical mass of younger generation in the region who could converse on developmental issues at the national and global level.
Abid Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI while presenting the recommendations of the conference said that the regional governments in South Asia should consider of presenting green budget in the parliament. The delegates asked the governments in South Asia to seriously think towards accountability mechanisms before the gains from democracy and new found prosperity in the region are eroded by corruption. They also called upon government and non-governmental organisations to work towards promoting religious and racial tolerance.
Dr Tariq Banuri, Professor at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA deplored the marginalization of sustainable development in the decision and policy-making process in the region. He said, we could not escape the necessity of consensus over equity and social justice however, there was, indeed a conflict between profit, people and nature which needs to be addressed.
Chairing the session “Disaster Management in South Asia”, Arif Jabbar Country Director OXFAM Pakistan stated that disaster mainstreaming is the key to build resilient and safer communities. Irina Mosel, from SDPI urged to focus on developing linkages between government and communities and government and international bodies to better respond to disasters.
During session on ‘Anatomy, impact, challenges and resolution of Conflicts, the panellists highlighted institutional failures, centrist mindset and elitist top down approach that have resulted in build-up of violence in the country and also impeded the service delivery.
The session “Women’s’ political participation, opportunities and challenges” concluded with the demand that women political empowerment, at local as well as national level, must be enhanced to protect women rights in Pakistan. The panellists at session “reducing environmental risks in South Asian ship recycling industry”, shared details of hazardous chemicals, released from ship recycling industries and its effects on the health of workers.
The session on “Religious Freedoms: South Asian perspective” concluded with the demand that cultural, political and social harmony is required to ensure religious freedom. They called for repealing discriminatory legislation against minorities and foster inter-community dialogue to pursue religious harmony in the country.