‘Establish common court, bank in South Asia’

July 23rd, 2008 - 1:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Kandy (Sri Lanka), July 23 (IANS) South Asia should have a common court and a common development bank, says the newly-formed Imagine a New South Asia (INSA) policy forum that has asked leaders gathering for the Aug 2-3 Saarc summit in this country to establish these institutions. South Asia should also have a common economic management framework and a mechanism to ensure people to people contacts so as to strengthen human rights in the region, say politicians, academics and NGO representatives from eight South Asian countries gathered for the three-day forum meeting that started here Tuesday.

Kamla Bhasin, coordinator of the NGO Sangat South Asia, called for all institutions and resource management to be people-centric. She said: “Neo-liberal agendas, privatisation and globalisation in South Asian perspectives are hindrance in our progress. We have to make people and not their leaders of this region the masters of their destinies.”

Fawzia Wahab, member of Pakistan’s National Assembly, wanted broader exchange among scholars and teachers of the region. She asked the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries to develop a mechanism under which their students get scholarships to study in other South Asian countries and their civil servants learn from each other’s experiences.

The forum meeting has been organised by the University of Peradeniya Kandy, University of Colombo, Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad (BUP), the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Pakistan, Indian Social Institute (ISI), NGOs federation Nepal and National Disaster Management Coordination Committee (NDMCC) Sri Lanka in partnership with the NGO Actionaid.

John Samuel, International Director Actionaid, suggested seven policy options to pave the way for a new South Asia. They are a South Asian people’s parliament, a South Asian education fund, a South Asian climate change management and disaster mitigation framework, a South Asia poverty eradication programme, a South Asian charter on human rights, and a South Asian economic management framework.

“The region must come closer in terms of enhanced trade, closer socio-economic integration and regional connectivity and promoting access to justice and fair treatment to the poor and socially disadvantaged community, particularly women,” said Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairperson of the INSA regional steering committee.

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