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SAARC urged to combat poverty, social inequities

P. Anima

Demand for Regional Security Council


  • About 200 delegates are participating in the Sixth South Asian People's Summit
  • Regional declaration calls for land reforms, land rights for indigenous people

    NEW DELHI: About 200 delegates who are part of the Sixth South Asian People's Summit on Monday urged the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) countries to work towards "a meaningful unification of the region" and strengthen political resolve to combat poverty and social inequities.

    At the three-day `People's Summit' held parallel to the SAARC Summit since 2000, the delegates of the eight South Asian countries demanded the setting up of a Regional Security Council to curb nuclear proliferation in the region.

    The `People's Summit' which closed with a regional declaration condemned the increased defence spending by South Asian countries and also demanded immediate ratification and implementation of the SAARC convention on human trafficking.

    To combat trafficking, commercial exploitation and sexual abuse of women and children in the region, the declaration also demanded ratification of the regional Victim/Witness Protection Protocol.

    "SAARC is an exclusive set that does not reflect the aspirations of the people of the region. So it is important to reiterate people's demands," said Bushra Gohar, a representative from Pakistan, at a press conference here.

    "It is important to bring voices together and discuss issues," said Hungama Anwari, a representative from Afghanistan.

    People and networks from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka also demanded that SAARC countries should declare the region "visa free" to facilitate free movement of people.

    At the summit organised by South Asian Network for Social and Agricultural Development, South Asia Partnership International and Global Call to Action Against Poverty along with a host of other organisations, the suspension of fundamental rights and civil liberties in various regions in South Asia was also strongly condemned.

    The declaration also called for land reforms and land rights for indigenous people.

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