SAARC members urged to invest in social sector instead of arms

Nov 11, 2011

KARACHI: People’s SAARC, a parallel process of the civil society,  expressed concern over rising expenditure on purchase of arms and ammunition in the region and appealed the SAARC member to increase investments in the social sector especially health, education, housing, adequate food as basic rights for a more equitable and sustainable society.

Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research (PILLER) joint director Zulfiqar Shah, along with trade union leader Fareed Awan and Fisher Folk Forum general secretary Saeed Baloch, hold a press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC) in connection with 17th SAARC Summit and read out the Peoples’ SAARC Memorandum. He said that SAARC members spent billions of dollars on defense; they not only fostered aggressive militarism but also destroyed natural resources. He suggested that this money should be used for the benefit of human beings. It issued a Memorandum on the occasion.

“As an expression of commitment to international cultural, social, and economic rights of people, SAARC must promptly adopt credible measures to implement the SAARC Social Charter in all countries without discrimination between citizens and immigrants, stressing affirmative action for indigenous people”, said the memorandum.

The memorandum called upon the South Asian states to ensure the rights of all workers, especially women and daily wedges workers in accordance with international standards including ILO conventions, international covenants and national constitutions. Fisher peoples’ rights to fish in territorial waters should be recognised and legally protected through proper mechanisms. Innocent fisher folk incarcerated for wandering into neighboring, sometimes disputed, territorial waters should be immediately released and the presence of deep sea trawlers and foreign vessels should be banned as these are depleting fish stock and pursuing an unsustainable path apart from severely diminishing the catch of the ordinary fisher folk.

Peoples’ SAARC recommended that the South Asian states must respect the right to mobility with dignity as a human right. Migrants should be assured of dignity and the right to work as well as physical protection, basic amenities and adequate wages. Victims of trafficking, especially women and children must be protected. Similarly the rights of individuals and communities subject to forced displacement, disasters and forced eviction should be protected.

It also underlined the need that South Asian governments and civil society must work together and lead the world in the struggle for climate justice demanding legally enforceable international standards on the lines of and beyond the Kyoto Protocol and not succumb to the machinations of the perpetrators who wanted to push for accords in place of treaties.

(Daily Times)

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