Terrorism a cancer, hope saarc nations will fight it: PM


Staff member
New Delhi July 10:

Comparing terrorism to cancer, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the scourge can consume societies in the South Asian region and hoped that the countries will have the will and foresight to prevent such an outcome.

Inaugurating the fifth Conference of the Association of SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) Speakers and Parliamentarians here, the prime minister said that South Asia cannot realise its full potential until the countries resolve their differences peacefully and develop the culture of solving their problems themselves.

"Others cannot solve our problems for us. The scourge of terrorism has taken a huge toll on all our societies. It is a cancer that, if not checked, will consume us all. I would like to believe that we have the will and foresight to prevent such an outcome," he said. Noting a parliament was the supreme organ of democracy that reflects the collective will of people and the sovereignty of the state, Manmohan Singh said: "Today, more than ever before, a tremendous responsibility rests on our parliaments to safeguard political liberties, protect fundamental human freedoms and the rule of law."

Calling upon parliamentarians from the region to act as the conscience keepers of South Asian cooperation and integration, he said resolving differences and reconciling different viewpoints are what parliaments and their presiding officers do on a daily basis. He also complimented Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar for her outstanding success in her role as the presiding officer. "As parliamentarians, you are uniquely placed to help inculcate the sense of a common South Asian destiny in your countries. We would like to see many more exchanges among our parliamentarians," he said.

Pointing out that countries in south Asia face common challenges of mass poverty, unemployment, lack of adequate health care, illiteracy and environmental degradation, the prime minister said the governments should learn from each other's experiences. "One of the lessons history has taught us is that no country can prosper in isolation. We live in an inter-connected world, and this is especially so in South Asia," he said. Manmohan Singh said free flow of information and explosion in communication technologies imply that "physical borders can no longer divide our nations".

"We have a shared civilisational and cultural heritage going back many centuries...We must learn to speak with one voice on the common challenges that face us," he said. The prime minister said that South Asia is home to perhaps the most youthful population in the world who deserve a better future. "Disaffection and alienation provide a fertile breeding ground for intolerance, violence and terrorism which then threaten our societies and rupture the social fabric," he said and added that establishment of the South Asian University is a most timely initiative in this context.

Asserting that economic development is a fundamental prerequisite for human progress, manmohan Singh said India provides opportunities for all of South Asia to benefit from its economic growth and vast market. "We have opened our market and we are committed to pursuing policies that benefit the entire regional economy as a whole," he said. He said intra-regional trade since the introduction of the South Asian Free Trade Area in 2006 has grown to $ 1.2 billion and the 2010-2020 had been declared as the 'Decade of Intra-regional Connectivity' in SAARC.

The prime minister said he was glad that the conference will focus on the issue of sustainable development, adding South Asia cannot afford to copy western lifestyles. "We have to tap our own genius to develop models of growth which correspond to our resource endowments, and yet enable us to banish the scourge of poverty from our midst," he said.