Published Date: Dec 13, 2012
SDPI PRESS RELEASE (SDC DAY 3)
Federal Minister for Information, Qamar Zaman Kaira on Thursday called for workable ‘regional solutions’ to address cross-border conflicts, threats posed by natural disasters and gaps in demand and supply of energy and water resource.
“To achieve these goals, all South Asian countries have to give respect to each other’s rights and assume responsibilities,” the minister said while speaking at the closing session of the conference on “Sustainable Development in South Asia: Shaping the Future” organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). The three-days conference was attended by around 145 speakers, 42 of them were foreign delegates from over 18 countries, who deliberated upon the future of sustainable development in South Asia.
The minister said the region must address 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 grow can ensure the sustainable development in the region.
Speaking on regional cooperation, the minister said, “Pakistan has engaged with India in all sincerity and relaxed the trade terms along with liberalized visa policy. It gives me 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,”
“The government of Pakistan Peoples Party has worked hard in providing a nation-wide system of social safety nets in order to protect the poorest of the poor” he added. While commenting further, he said, “A focus not just on economic growth but also on equity, social justice and regard for environment can help us in moving towards a path where inequalities related to incomes, consumption and more importantly inequality of opportunities for people can be reduced.”
Highlighting the commitment of the government of Pakistan People’s Party 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.”
He said, ”We have tried to give powers to the people of Pakistan. The measures such as the enhanced NFC award, 18th Amendment and several other actions are examples of how we have tried to strengthen democracy in the country,” adding that “latest NFC award has restores fiscal federalism in Pakistan and removed the earlier imbalances which created economic disparity within the country.” At the end minister appreciated SDPI for its consistent support in political struggle for democracy and upholding the policy research agenda in Pakistan.
Dr. 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. Dr. Haque 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 urbanized so there is need to focus on cities and make urban centers as engine of growth.
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
Dr. Abid Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI shared the recommendations from the deliberations of three day conference and said that South Asian governments need to think towards a green budget in the parliament. He said, the conference demand 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. The delegates also called upon government and non-governmental organizations to work towards promoting religious and racial tolerance, he added.
Earlier, at a special plenary, chaired by Dr. Ishrat Husain, former Governor State Bank and Dean Institute of Business Administration, Karachi 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 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. 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 equity and social justice however, there was, indeed a conflict between profit, people and nature which needs to be addressed. Dr. Abid Suleri, ED, SDPI talked of new demographic trends in South Asia including growing population, increase in middle class income level, and exposure to modern technologies which have led to increased demand for food, energy and water.
Chairing the session on “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. Atiya Ali Kazmi while presenting her paper said disasters can be significantly reduced if people are well informed and motivated towards a culture of disaster prevention and resilience. Sanaullah presented analysis of consecutive foods in Sindh and urged the need to make drainage system workable to reduce risks of floods. Mr Saleh from Bangladesh presented a model that established as to how communities could be made resilient in the face of floods and droughts.
During session on ‘Anatomy, impact, challenges and resolution of Conflicts, the panelists highlighted institutional failures, centrist mindset and elitist top down approach that have resulted in buildup 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 panelists 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. They said, regional states are neglecting the issue and demanded efficient waste management to protect environment and 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.