South Asia is a vast reservoir of diverse human and natural resources. It is a seat of culture and civilization. We have tremendous economic and social potentials for growth and prosperity of the whole region. Nevertheless, our region is languishing in poverty. Our people are deprived of decent life. Scope and level of existing regional cooperation in South Asia do not match its potentials.
Peace, development, and security are mutually reinforcing. We cannot achieve development without peace and security. It is equally true that peace and security can be achieved with good neighborliness, friendship, dialogue, cooperation and development.
We sit on vast natural resources. Any resource remaining utilized for common benefit is not resource. We need to move ahead and put common efforts for economic development, utilization and management of natural resources. This could be the first step towards overcoming the challenges of energy security in the region.
It is equally necessary to enhance economic cooperation, and regional integration through vigorous regional trade and development, removal of barriers to trade and investment, and promotion of investment activity for economic integration.
Our people are our biggest source for development. Development is possible only through enhanced investments in people's education and health. Our region has young and talented population. One of the biggest challenges of our time is the growing exodus of our people in search of better opportunities elsewhere. This has created a set of multidimensional challenges including the social decay of our societies. We need to turn our immediate attention toward providing productive employment for them . This I believe will create conditions for sustainable peace and development.
We need to make SAARC cooperative framework more relevant to the life of our people by addressing the problems and challenges we are facing on daily basis. I believe that social development, economic development and environmental protection help to promote peace, security and development in the South Asian region. Our region has accumulated huge costs of non-cooperation. We can make SAARC more relevant to the problems and challenges, common people are facing on a daily basis. As we look to institutionalize democratic achievements, build, and sustain democratic institutions, we need to focus on inclusive growth, poverty reduction and promote economic prosperity.
South Asia has been the worst sufferer of terrorism. It is the biggest threat and huge obstacle to cooperative development, peace and security in South Asia. We have a shared destiny and our fate is interwoven. South Asia needs to come together to claim a place of pride and honour in the international sphere that is commensurate with its potentials. Regional stability and economic prosperity should go hand in hand. SAARC should be made more relevant to the life of common people. Consistent with the realities of our time and ever growing aspirations of our peoples, we have no option but to collaborate actively to achieve peace, development, and security.
India as the largest democracy provides a shining example. It is encouraging to see that countries in he region have become more democratic in recent years. It is my firm belief that democracy provides a framework to address the challenges we face in the region.
Let me take this distinguished audience to our own situation. Nepal is making a democratic transition after over a decade long armed conflict. Though our transition has been relatively longer than anticipated, we have made several important achievements in the peace process since its start in 2006. It has been a long-cherished desire of the people of Nepal to write a constitution for the country through the Constituent Assembly (CA). The November polls reinforced that determination. The newly elected Constituent Assembly has already commenced its business and all major political parties have a common commitment to deliver a democratic constitution within a year. My government will do everything possible to facilitate the work of the Constituent Assembly.
This Government is committed to working with all political forces within and outside the Constituent Assembly in the larger national interests and welfare of the people. We must respect the verdicts and aspirations of the Nepalese people as expressed in the recently concluded CA elections. We want to consolidate and institutionalize democratic system of governance in line with universally accepted principles of democracy, rule of law, human rights and good governance. Our aim is to build a peaceful, stable, democratic, and prosperous country where every citizen lives in dignity and honour and without any discrimination.
We are convinced that political transformation cannot be achieved in the absence of socio-economic transformation. We need a long-term vision to transform Nepal’s development landscape. This government will seriously work towards creating an investment friendly environment through necessary policy reforms.
Our primary focus is on neighboring countries. This Government will further consolidate bilateral relations with neighbors and other friendly countries. We believe that Nepal could take advantage from the emerging and widening economic opportunities in our neighborhood.
I am fully convinced that the exchange of views among eminent personalities and presentation of scholarly papers here would help generate interesting ideas and useful thoughts. We are happy that the conference is being held at such an opportune time when the next SAARC Summit is due in Nepal and the SAARC Ministerial Meeting is taking place next week in the Maldives. I am confident that the conference will contribute towards a workable model of partnership for the objective of cooperative development, peace, democracy and security in South Asia.
Before closing, on a personal note, I would like to share that I feel truly honored to have the presence of Dr. Karan Singh on this occasion. I have three reasons for being so. First, Dr. Singh is not only a seasoned statesman in the Indian politics, but his contribution in the academic field as well as in developing cultural harmony has been well recognized in India and beyond. Second, he has been a close friend of Nepal for long time and his personal initiatives in Nepal's peace process have remained valuable. Third, it is my great pleasure to have a long time distinguished friend in Kathmandu. I really admire his commitment towards promoting common understanding in our region.
Koirala is a prime minister of Nepal. Excerpt of his statement delivered during the opening ceremony of the Regional Conference on Cooperative Development, Peace and Security in South Asia.The program was organized jointly by the Centre for South Asian Studies, Kathmandu and the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, Chandigarh, India.