The first two-day South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) Young Parliamentarians' Conference with the key theme of "Peace & Harmony for Development" concluded in Pakistani capital Islamabad on Wednesday.
Delegates from Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the host Pakistan participated in the conference. The objective of the conference was to give young narrative of progress to the upcoming SAARC conference to be held in Islamabad in November.
The young parliamentarians of the SAARC countries agreed to enhance cooperation in the fields of energy, trade, and human security and for easement of visa and travel arrangements.
An understanding to this effect came in a joint communiqué issued on the conclusion of the conference.
The communiqué emphasised developing mechanisms for strengthening cooperation in climate change, environment, education, tourism and sports.
"We believe that SAARC is the future for this region, and it is the only way, and we can ensure progress and development of all the people of all the countries in SAARC region"
Promotion of people-to-people interactions, cultural exchanges, and cooperation to address issues of corruption and financial crime was also underlined in the communiqué.
The conference was jointly hosted by National Assembly (lower house) of Pakistan and Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services.
Amid the rising tensions between India and Pakistan over recent violence in Kashmir, a three member Indian Parliamentary delegation also participated in the meet.
Led by Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo, leader of Biju Janata Dal party in the Lok Sabha, the other two members in the delegation were Alok Tiwari of Samajwadi Party in the Rajya Sabha and another Lok Sabha MP Devisingh Patel.
"We believe that SAARC is the future for this region, and it is the only way, and we can ensure progress and development of all the people of all the countries in SAARC region," Deo told the audience at concluding ceremony.
"I certainly intend to strive to ensure that this declaration is put in action by my country," he added.
Addressing the ceremony, National assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq said the conference will help improve Pakistan's image abroad. He said the region was faced with common problems.
"We have established SDGS (Sustainable Development Goals Secretariat) because the issue we need to tackle is women's issue, it is child labour, it is population, growing population, it is food security, it is education, it is health, and there are numerous issues that we need to tackle. But what I feel is that this is not only Pakistan's issue but the issue is in entire SAARC region. Collectively, putting our minds together we might be able to learn from each other's experiences and take advantage of the situation," said Sadiq.
He said the SAARC countries should allow the youth to lead their nations from the front to promote peace, stability and cooperation in the region.
Sidiq said like all civilized nations, Pakistan wants to resolve all outstanding issues with India peacefully through dialogue.
Significantly, the next big item on the SAARC agenda for the year is SAARC Finance Ministers' Conference to be held at Islamabad on August 25-26. It is not known as yet whether the Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would travel to Pakistan for the meet. Doubts have been raised after the recent unpleasant situation that arose when Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Pakistan to attend the SAARC Home/Interior Ministers conference.
A report on the Pakistan state-run news agency Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said that Pakistan minister for finance senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Saturday chaired a meeting to review the arrangements for the upcoming SAARC Finance Ministers conference.