Speech of Sujata Koirala at the 15th South Asia Peace Initiatives Held on 8th Nov 2014 in Kathmandu

Mr. Chairperson

Excellencies, Distinguished Scholars

Ladies and Gentlemen:

At the outset, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the SAPI for choosing a timely and momentous theme for today’s deliberations. We all recognize that sustainable peace in South Asia, which is home to over one fifth of the world’s population, is imperative, not only for the overall prosperity of the region but also for global stability and peace.

The foremost reason for such an understanding of ours is that the South Asian region occupies a central place in the political and economic map of the world.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

The human civilization has embraced the process of globalization. Not only has it offered abundant opportunities for mankind but it also has created some significant challenges before them. We, South Asians, as part of the global community are also confronted with these challenges in various forms, including that of terrorism, separatist movements, ethno-religious strife, poverty and disease. And, on top of all this, we are experiencing an unprecedented level of disturbance in the environmental equilibrium due to climate changes.

When we talk about peace and collective security the issue that stares us glaringly in the eye is the issue of poverty. Poverty not only is a major factor contributing to environmental degradation but most importantly it undermines human dignity. It therefore undermines the cohesion of society and provides a fertile breeding ground for provocations of all sort, exploitation, crime, violence, injustice and even terrorism.

To tackle poverty for the sake of peace we need real development not through aid but through real investments to be able to improve the economic and social conditions of our peoples.

However, good management and leadership are equally important. In other words, for development to be sustainable and lasting, good governance, discipline and strong political will are prerequisites.

I think if the countries in our region are able to come together and form a collective vision for the sake of peace and development it will bring hope and confidence in their leadership to over One-and-a-half-billion people. Political leadership needs the support of their people to accomplish the goals set out.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

Even though our challenges seem great but so are our opportunities. We need to overcome these challenges through collective and united efforts and cooperation amongst ourselves.

We already have all it takes to accomplish this and the institutions are also in place to carry out effective cooperation and collaboration in our region.

First and foremost I am speaking of the institution of SAARC. SAARC provides us the platform to forge mutually beneficial schemes of cooperation for the welfare of our peoples. There is no reason to invent new models and theories. Other countries and regions’ experiences have already shown us ways. We only need to refine them and apply them to our circumstances.

SAARC also fulfills the important role as a platform to enhance mutual understanding with the aim of deepening cooperation, collaboration, and coordination amongst ourselves so as to provide for a collective vision for the future of our region and to implement it.

South Asia’s potential is huge and, of late, we have started noticing positive signs of progress in finally unleashing this potential.

South-Asia is a region filled with diverse peoples, histories, cultures and traditions, captivating natural beauty, and important natural resources. We are proud of our diversity, but we should not forget that we have a lot in common too.

The South Asian peoples are a fountain of creativity that when unleashed will leave behind a profound impact on the scientific-, cultural- and economic development of the world.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

In this context, I would like to shed some light on the recent experiences of my country, which underwent a period of turmoil and bloodshed. We lost thousands of innocent human lives, thousands of families were displaced, and billions of dollars in infrastructure was damaged.

It was due to the leadership of late GP Koirala and his politics of consensus, that it has been possible to extricate the country from the blood-shed and political instability.

At that time, Prime Minister Koirala was under tremendous pressure from certain quarters not to trust the Maoists. Nevertheless, he not only resisted that pressure but also convinced them in favor of his initiatives aimed at Nepal’s enduring peace.

If we recall Nepal’s gloomy situation at the time when the King had asserted state sovereignty, and the Maoists insurgency was at its peak, late Koirala had no choice but to fulfill his duty to stop the violence, reactivate the then derailed constitutional provisions and take the Maoists into a democratic process in order for them to be transformed. And, he carried out these tasks successfully.

The former insurgents are now a part of the mainstream political process. They have even headed the government twice as Prime Ministers of the country and now are currently in the role of main opposition party in the Constituent Assembly!

This model of transforming anti-state elements into a lawful one, through a democratic and peaceful way, is unique but fitted the circumstances of Nepal. I hope that such a model in one form or another can be applicable to other countries as well.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

Having established peace in Nepal, our country soon will be ready, after the promulgation of the new constitution, to fully engage with our friends and partners in our region for peace and development and to finally get our people’s out of poverty, the groundwork for Nepal having been established by my father.

Thank you.

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