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PM Ashraf urges SAARC countries to unite for democracy

07 November, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Tuesday said one of the objectives of SAARC was to promote welfare of the people of South Asia and improve their quality of life. "Let's join hands to extend support to strengthen democracy in our region."

He was addressing a luncheon hosted in honour of the participants of the Sixth Conference of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians on Tuesday at the PM's House.

The PM said the full potential of South Asia could only be realised by resolving differences peacefully and solving problems "purposefully". He said parliamentarians had a unique advantage and they could play a significant role in promoting the ideals of peace and prosperity in their respective countries and the region.

He, however, made it clear the objective could be achieved "only when we resolve our differences peacefully and develop the culture of solving our problems seriously and purposefully".

He said SAARC has immense potential to transform the region into a zone of peace, stability and prosperity. "It is time for us to leverage our potential to overcome these challenges," he added. He said Pakistan was firmly committed to the principles of SAARC and attached great importance to its ideals and processes.

"We are committed to go an extra mile to make SAARC an effective and productive organisation that is beneficial to all South Asian citizens." The PM in this regard said people need to be made partners in development and their welfare be the focus of public policy.

PM Raja said Pakistan envisioned SAARC as a thriving organisation, promoting not only regional development but advancing the global agenda for peace and prosperity.

He said parliament's role was critical for any democracy to take firm roots and formulate policies for people's welfare. "The broad-based and unhindered participation of people leads to greater ownership by the people and brightens the prospects of success," he added. He said being elected not only brings special privilege and honour, but also entails huge responsibilities.

"We should be cognizant of hopes and expectations pinned on us by the people," the PM said. He said there was a need to develop comprehensive and holistic regional strategy that includes sharing of best practices in agricultural sector, technology transfer and efficient irrigation system to effectively pre-empt any food crisis in future.

Also speaking at the session, National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza said democracy was the chosen path of the SAARC nations and concerted efforts were being made to strengthen it. She said the conference had enabled parliamentarians of member countries to forge close links among them. She said the long-cherished desire for a regional network of women legislators has set the course for SAARC's possible future expansion in other areas of mutual cooperation.


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