ISLAMABAD: Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza on Tuesday said that democracy was the chosen path of the SAARC nations and and concerted efforts are being made to strengthen it.
Speaking the concluding session of 6th Conference of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians, she said the conference has enabled the parliamentarians of the member countries to forge close links among them. She said the decision of the conference to constitute a Women’s Committee of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians is a historic landmark in the history of South Asia. She said the long-cherished desire for a regional network of women legislators has set the course for the Association’s possible future expansion in other areas of mutual cooperation.
The Conference has rightly identified terrorism as the biggest challenge to democracy in South Asia and stressed for Parliaments’ pro-active role in comprehensively addressing the menace, she said. She said the discussions in the conference have revealed a strong agreement on strengthening the political parties structures at all levels, while calls were also made for greater parliamentary interventions in addressing issues of corruption, class-divide and trends of rising intolerance in South Asia.
She urged to expedite activating Saarc Food Security Bank, which was established in 2007. The proposal of a regional agenda for cooperation in research and sharing of agriculture and forest technology is also another important suggestion of the conference, she said. As for the MDGs, it has been rightly found that owing to the “top-down approach” of these targets, there has been a general lack of ownership towards them while the space for local participation is also limited.
“SAARC should evovle a joint strategy to cope with “Beyond 2015-Post MDGs” scenario. It was genuinely felt to take into account the realities of Climate change and related risks Chronic poverty and growing inequalities Uncontrolled population growth and unplanned urbanization and the global financial crisis.”
These are indeed serious threats to the progress and promotion of a vibrant democracy and owing to their inter-connected nature, they require a holistic approach on the regional level.
SAARC should address such challenges jointly, she said adding it is equally heartening for me to note that the idea of a “South Asian Parliament”, as proposed by Pakistan last year in New Delhi, was repeatedly echoed as the possible future vision for the Association. The momentum of parliamentary exchanges among member Parliaments should be increased. The women legislators have already taken the lead by calling for their meetings on biannual basis. Parliamentary seminars, workshops and discussions should be held on mutually agreed issues on regular basis. – Brecorder