Urging governments in Southasia to work towards convening an official SAARC Summit at the earliest
26 March 2023: We at Southasia Peace Action Network, Sapan, urge governments in Southasia to work towards convening an official SAARC Summit at the earliest
We believe that Southasian governments must develop good neighbourly relations and collaborate for social and economic prosperity in this culturally affinitive region
Good neighbourly relations are essential to achieve individual, national, and global objectives.
The onus of responsibility lies on governments to work for such relations and to ensure that the people of their countries acquire all opportunities available to people in other successful regions of the world to visit, trade with, and learn.
Governments must take joint initiatives with their counterparts in neighbouring countries to pursue and promote shared cultural, social, economic, and environmental objectives and solve political conflicts.
Nations improve their economic and social welfare sectors when they interact as part of a regional bloc, as illustrated by the regional blocs that have emerged in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. A regional organisation provides a stabilising cushion from destabilising fluctuations in the global economy. This aspect behind the foundation of SAARC, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, in 1985.
Besides improving economic and social indicators, SAARC enhances the national prestige of individual Southasian countries, helping them manage bilateral relations and develop a collective regional identity.
To achieve this SAARC forum needs to engage in regular dialogue, and unfortunately, such exchanges have not taken place for nearly a decade.
The last SAARC Summit (18th) was held in Kathmandu, November 26-27, 2014, attended by the prime ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, as well as the presidents of Afghanistan, Maldives, and Sri Lanka.
The motto was ‘Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity’. Sadly, this promise failed to materialise and this lapse has inevitably led to the entire region suffering massively on the economic and social front.
The Southasian region combined has the highest number of people in the world living below the poverty line, outstripping sub-Saharan Africa. A revived SAARC can help mitigate this crisis.
Understanding this, we the undersigned individuals and representatives of the listed organisations, affirm that dialogue and regional cooperation are essential for peace and stability in this region.
We, therefore, urge the governments of the Southasia region to:
1. Commit to holding a future SAARC Summit soon.
2. Provide a clear-cut plan on how SAARC can be revived.
3. Work towards deeper integration in Southasia and allowing people-to-people contact and restoring road, rail, and air connectivity.
4. Act on the need to uphold the genuine economic and social conditions of all peoples of the region, keeping aside narrow nationalist agendas.
Southasia Peace Action Network (Sapan)
26 March 2023
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