Published Date: Dec 12, 2012
SOUTH ASIA NEEDS TO MOVE TOWARDS ‘ECONOMY OF PEACE’
South Asia remains the least connected region in the world, said Federal Minister for Defence Syed Naveed Qamar while addressing the three-day Annual Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Tuesday.
This year’s theme is ‘Sustainable Development in South Asia: Shaping the Future.”
The minister said that the sustainable development in South Asia depends upon how well we can achieve social cohesion across regions, faiths and ethnicities. He said that social cohesion and tolerance should be the priority agenda for governments and NGOs in the region. He said that our priorities must include on how the rising economic gains and access to technology be configured in a manner that can reduce inequalities — particularly the inequality of opportunities for our people. He said that developmental considerations should regard social justice and respect our environment and natural resources.
Speaking on governance and role of institutions for people’s empowerment, the minister urged on ensuring participatory democracy at the local level whereby communities and households can feel themselves integrated and part of the overall vision for national and regional development.
He said that Pakistan played active role in Saarc for formulisation of the processes towards setting up food bank and supporting other regional arrangements, including South Asia Free Trade Agreement. He observed that cross-border trade and investment in this region has the potential to mitigate poverty and inequalities.
Earlier, Dr. Saeed Shafqat, chairperson of the SDPI’s Board of Governors, said that for a prosperous and secure future, South Asia needs to move away from an “economy of war” towards an “economy of peace.” He said an inclusive and equitable economic growth must be ensured through redistribution of power structures.
Javed Jabbar said that despite diversity in every aspect and rich in resources, the South Asia region still faces significant stresses and shortages in water, food and energy sector. He said that the region needs to bank upon commonalities while thinking and acting collectively.
Dr. Abid Suleri, executive director of the SDPI, said that the choices that policy-makers make today will determine how the future might unfold in South Asia. He also shared the positive role that the SDPI is playing in socio-economic development in Pakistan and across the region.
Panellists of a session titled ‘Will media be a catalyst for change?’ unanimously agreed that forms and formats of media are changing rapidly where social media are not only informing at fast pace but are also linking individuals, groups, societies.
Mohammad Malick was of the view that the media is a catalyst for change but it depends upon which side of picture is being looked at.
Farrukh Pitafi said that even if there are laws regarding media, these are not relevant and rational.
Moneeza Hashmi said that over years, radio channels have mushroomed providing entertainment, sports and news coverage to people.
Badar Alam said that journalism is going to get worse before it gets better. Fahd Husain talked about the role of advertisements in influencing the media content and maintained that often media is used by certain groups through their financial influence.
Hamza Abbas from SDPI, Zohair Zaidi from Oxfam and Tassaduq Rasul, country director of the ActionAid, also spoke on the occasion.