South Asian states asked to divert funds for social uplift

Karachi: South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication SAAPE, a regional network and People’s SAARC on Tuesday demanded all the states of South Asia to stop extremism and divert funds for social development.

The alliance in a campaign launching ceremony here called upon all the South Asian states to promote real democracy with reservation of seats for peasants, rural workers, minorities and social activists in their parliaments. The local governance system should be strengthened in each South Asian country. All South Asian states were asked to provide social security to all to their citizens and the migrant workers without any discrimination.

The other demands included signing of the Charter of Democracy by SAARC governments, establishment of a South Asian Tribunal of Justice, eradication of terrorism and extremism, increase in the budgets on social development every year, education be accepted as a fundamental right of all South Asian children.

Dr. Netra Prasad Timsina, SAAPE Coordinator, hailing from Nepal, formally announced the campaign and gave the background about the Peoples SAARC, saying it is a common platform of people of the South Asian region. There is a 21member core committee of SAAPE with its present secretariat in Kathmandu, Nepal. PILER is a focal member in Pakistan to represent the important forum.

Dr. Jaffar Ahmed, Chairman Pakistan Study Centre University of Karachi said there is need of change the syllabus to educate the children rightly instead of changing their mind with giving direction to talk against the people believing in the other religions. He suggested initiating a South Asian level long march of peasants, fishermen, herders and workers.

B.M. Kutty, Secretary General of Peoples Peace Coalition PPC talked about the threats to peace in the region and said it is the common problem for the entire region. He said that whenever any network is formed at regional level it is considered as if it is the move to resolve existing conflict between Pakistan and India.

Dr Riaz Ahmed Shaikh, Head of Social Sciences Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology SZABIST Karachi said Pakistanis are proud to have been the nuclear power nation “but we see Polio cases are increasing here; hundreds of mothers die annually by preventable diseases; we have schools destroyed and deteriorating literacy rate.”

Farooq Tariq, Member of SAAPE Core Committee said all the rulers of South Asian states are together in implementation of the agenda of neoliberalism. They are implementing anti workers’ policies. But on the contrary SAAPE is struggling to highlight the common issues the people of region.

Peasant leader Punhal Sario said in Pakistan all influential people are elected to the assemblies. Since they do not represent the common men, they always design policies to safeguard the interests of the ruling elite. He said land grabbing is the major issue in which ruling elite and bureaucracy is involved.

Sheema Kirmani, a performing artist and peace activist discussed the role of performance art to promote peace between Pakistan and India. Politics and art are two sides of a coin. She linked the performing art a major source of communication and message delivery on politics to change the mindset of the people. She also recited a poem of Pablo Neruda, which has been translated by the famous poetess of Pakistan Fahmida Riaz.

Abdul Khaliq Junejo of Jeay Sindh Mahaz, Saeed Baloch, General Secretary Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum PFF, Nasir Mansoor, Sajjad Zaheer, Nizamuddin Nizamani and others also spoke.