Students want South Asia to develop as EU
ISLAMABAD, May 26(Dawn): Students representing different universities on Friday
called for cut in defence expenditure and ending the role of military in
politics for a vibrant South Asia, free from hunger and deprivation.
an interactive group discussion on "New South Asia and New Realities", organized
by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here, they also wanted
more opportunities for intra SAARC education for creating mutual trust,
awareness about celebrating the diversity in common persons, and more investment
in human and natural resources in the region.
A large number of students
from local universities and the University of Peshawar took part in the
interactive session aimed at hearing the views and judgments of students on the
philosophy of a 'New South Asia', free from poverty, hunger, conflict and social
injustice which rejects hegemony and oppression in the name of religion,
ethnicity, caste and culture.
The students agreed that South Asia had
great diversity and wanted the governments and policy makers of the region to
make serious efforts to celebrate this diversity, as did the members of the
European Union and other such initiatives in the world.
Most of the
students identified intolerance, political instability and disputes within and
among the South Asian states, neglected social sectors, military interference in
politics, gender differences, lack of culture of accountability and
transparency, and non-participation of students in politics as the key
challenges to the region. They urged the peoples and governments of the region
"to acknowledge, respect and celebrate the diversity of our region and make
collective efforts to make South Asia a free and prosperous region".
suggested that promotion of labour intensive rather than capital intensive
industries, HEC scholarships to study in South Asian states, promotion of
tourism, political orientation of layperson, and change in attitude and mindset
will help the region and people to overcome the challenges in the era of
Dr Abid Qayum Suleri and Afshan Ahmad of SDPI moderated
the proceedings. They said South Asia was victim of disputes because governments
inked agreements for the regional cooperation but did not implement
Drawing a comparison between European Union and SAARC, they urged
the South Asian governments to get rid of the burden of past and imagine a new
peaceful and prosperous South Asia instead of inflicting injustices on their
peoples in the name of national security and interests.
The exercise with
university students was part of an Imagine a New South Asia (INSA) initiative.
INSA was conceived as a broad-based citizens' initiative to advance a shared
sense of South Asian mission to promote more policy convergence on key issues,
more regional cooperation, joint initiative at the government as well as civil