Islamabad – Closer cooperation in the fields of trade, public diplomacy, and communication was advocated at the 5th South Asia Economic Summit which began in Islamabad on Tuesday. Speakers believed that, Pakistan and India can play a leading role for deeper regional integration as the two major nations of South Asia,
Over 114 foreign delegates, including ministers, economists and civil society members are participating in the 3-day summit that focuses on issues relating to South Asia economic outlook, impacts of global financial crisis, regional trade, energy cooperation, transport connectivity, and economic growth. The summit is being jointly sponsored by Pakistan’s Sustainable Development Policy Institute in collaboration with its regional partner think tanks.
Speaking at the inaugural session, Syed Naveed Qamar, Pakistan Federal Minister for Defence, stressed that “South Asian nations should focus on the issues that unite us rather than what divides us.” He said on the trade front, the region has taken concrete steps in reducing barriers but duties on intra-regional trade are being slashed to unprecedented levels. Stressing the need to understand South Asia’s perspective on post-2015 development forecast, the minister said: “We live in a region with regular natural disasters in the form of droughts, floods and earthquakes and it’s now time to address the impacts of climate change in this region.”
“The dream of South Asian community could only be realized if we can transform our perception about borders from security centric perspective to a hub of socio-economic opportunities” said Mahendra P. Lama, Vice Chancellor, Central University of Sikkim, India speaking at the summit.
He suggested that India and Pakistan can lead the region by initiating several trade interventions, relieve in visa policies and introducing a smart border plan.