Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Musharraf rallies South Asia hopes

The President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, has said South Asia has enormous development potential, but also a common history of missed opportunities.

President Musharraf was addressing a meeting of ministers from the South Asian regional grouping Saarc on poverty eradication being held in Islamabad.

President Musharraf said that over time, the South Asia region had become synonymous with poverty, conflict and instability.

He pointed out that the area is home to almost half the world's poor, that a large proportion is illiterate, and many children malnourished.

General Musharraf said the poor of South Asia deserved a long overdue break of peace and prosperity, and the key to this was economic growth.

Little success

The two-day meeting of Saarc's finance and planning ministers is discussing ways for the governments to work together to eradicate poverty.

However, the South Asian grouping has had little success in efforts at cooperation, such as regional trade.

The main sticking point has up to now been the poor relationship between India and Pakistan.

General Musharraf did not refer directly to this, but did speak about focussing on removing political and economic obstacles.

And he said that he hoped together, they could overcome the scourge of poverty and insecurity.