New Delhi, Sep 8 (ANI): Asserting that peace and stability were prerequisites for boosting development in South Asia, Pakistan lawmaker Farzana Raja on Thursday urged ndia to enhance engagement with its neighbour in social, economic and political spheres.
Addressing a panel discussion during the first meeting of South Asia Forum in New Delhi, Raja said: "Ladies and gentlemen, the most important priority for South Asia is development. To achieve socio-economic growth and ensure the well-being of our people, we need to have peace and stability at home as well as in the region."mong those gathered at the occasion were heads of delegations of SAARC (South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation) and Planning Commission Deputy Chairpersonontek Singh Ahluwalia.
Urging SAARC members to work together for regional prosperity, Raja, a member of the Pakistan National Assembly, cited development as the top priority for South Asian Governments.
He also called for increasing trade between India and Pakistan to forge long-lasting and 'mutually beneficial' ties.
"Our vast markets, our national and human resources and our innovative spirits are critical ingredients for promising regional and global economic activity. It is by a deliberate shift from independence to interdependence that we will be able to have and form partnerships that are mutually beneficial," he said.
Trade ties between Pakistan and India were severed after the 1965 conflict, the second of the three full-scale wars fought since their independence from the British colonial rule in 1947.
Commercial relations have since recovered, albeit slowly. Political differences are the major hurdles.
India granted a Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan in 1996, but awaits a similar gesture by Islamabad, which has linked progress on trade to progress on political disputes.
The Pakistan lawmakers also appealed to SAARC member nations to introspect on how far the international forum had succeeded in reaching its objectives and goals.
"We must make a frank and realistic appraisal whether SAARC has lived up to the hopes and aspirations of the people it represents. Historical legacies, differences and disputes have, in some ways, stalled progress, but this frank and honest assessment should also not blind us to significant progress achieved by the SAARC," said Raja.
The SAARC is an organisation of South Asian nations, founded in December 1985 and dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasizing collective self-reliance.
Its seven founding members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka and Afghanistan joined the organization in 2005. (ANI)