Experience of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has not being encouraging, Vice President Hamid Ansari said here today. “The experience of SAARC has not been encouraging and therefore alternate strategies need to be explored. The proposed new structure would have to be voluntary and devoid of overt or covert coercion. There may be lessons to be learnt from other regional organisations,” Ansari said. He was addressing a gathering after releasing the book ‘August Voices: What they said on 14-15 August 1947’, authored by the former journalist Sudheendra Kulkarni.
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“The practical approach would be to make haste slowly, to be accommodative rather than exclusionary so that negative perceptions are allowed to fade away,” he said. “Political commitment and modalities have to surface to resolve outstanding areas of disagreement. Foremost amongst these is what the Simla Agreement of 1972 called ‘a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir’,” he added.
Ansari said the state is doing all that is necessary to confront and repel terrorism and the state also has a duty to ensure that the rights and dignity of citizens are respected, ensured, and shortcomings are effectively addressed. “Alienation of any segment of the citizen body within our land does not contribute to the overall health of the Republic,” he said.
Ansari said a beginning has to be made in regional cooperation with a focus on human security problems, on movement of people and on trade without unreasonable restrictions.
“Common action is done easier on areas of convergence than of divergence. This convergence is to be sought by moving beyond the traditional paradigm of conventional security into those of human security and human wrong. “Both are ignored by the governments and societies in our region,” Ansari said.
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Common traits in cultural traditions and historical narratives need to be transmitted to younger generation through conscious promotion rather than “studied prevention of cultural exchanges, films and other cultural activities”, he said.