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By Prof. Dr. Khawaja Amjad Saeed

July 12, 1999

Unemployment Situation
in Pakistan

For the record

SAARC, as a regional body, was set up in 1985. Subsequently, many regional bodies e.g. NAFTA (North American Federation of Free Trading Area: a consortium of USA, Canada and Mexico) were set up and registered great strides. However, SAARC has yet to rise to the occasion. Its population is around 20% of the world but its share of exports in global exports is 0.89% — based on the World Development Report 1998-99. Several other economic and social indicators of GNP, per capita income, literacy rates etc are also on the lower side. There is a vast scope for ensuring a flourish, growth and development in SAARC region.

The following piece reviews founding principles, objectives, progress achieved so far and unique features of SAARC.

Founding principles

Clear cut principles have been spelled out and these require firm commitment by all the SAARC countries. It has been laid down that the cooperation among SAARC countries shall not be substitute for bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation but shall complement the same. Moreover, such cooperation shall not be inconsistent with bilateral and multi-lateral obligation. Principles on which cooperation shall be based include the following:

1) Sovereign Equality

2) Territorial Integrity

3) Political Independence

4) Non-interference in international affairs of other states and mutual benefit.


SAARC objectives include promotion of socio-economic developments within SAARC countries and also develop a productive relationship with regional and international organizations. The objectives are categorized as under:

a) Inter-SAARC

i) To promote the welfare of the people of South Asia and to improve their quality of life.

ii) To accelerate economic growth.

iii) To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields.

iv) To promote and strengthen collective self reliance among the countries of South Asia.

v) To contribute to mutual interest, understanding and appreciation of one another's problems

b) Intra-SAARC

i) To strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums and with other developing countries.

ii) To strengthen cooperation with other developing countries

iii) To cooperate with international and regional organizations.

Progress achieved

So far ten areas of work within SAARC region have been identified and allocated to various SAARC countries as per following details:

*India Business Information & Data Networking, Human (4 assignments) Resource Development, Science & Technology and Social Dimensions of Business Development

*Pakistan Trade and Investment

(2 assignments)

* Sri Lanka Women Entrepreneurship

(1 assignment)

*Bangladesh Telecommunication

(1 assignment)

*Nepal Travel & Tourism

(1 assignment)

*Nepal & Bhutan Energy

(joint responsibility)

Inter-SAARC trade is very small. Pakistan's export share of SAARC is only 3%.

SAPTA (South Asian Preferential Trading Area) has been in operation and SAFTA (South Asia Free Trading Area) will start operating in 2001. There is a dream of Economic Union by 2008.

Unique features

SAARC has unique features, which are very prominent and are of significant importance. These speak volumes for bright and rich future for the region. It is the largest geo-economic block of the world. Its population is 1.2 billion. Its combined average of GDP growth is over 7%. Its consumer base is over 425 million people in the middle class bracket. Its potential of contributing a great deal to the ever evolving global economy is tremendous. It has one of the most ancient living civilizations in the world.

It is a sleeping giant but has started moving. It has two Atomic Countries (India and Pakistan). All religions, faiths and ideologies live together. It is poised to become an important economic force through SAPTA and SAFTA. It is the largest English speaking area of the world. It has the largest irrigated network in the world. It has second largest railway network after USA, in the world. It has the largest number of consumers in a single economic block of the world. By the end of 2000, consumer base will surpass 750 million.

In the light of above, it is apparent that SAARC has a tremendous potential. While political problems may be tackled by politicians, economic cooperation and integration ought to be on high priority agenda to usher in an era of prosperity of the teeming millions. Let us rise to occasion and deliver the goods.

The writer is President, Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan Member Governing Council, International Federation of Accountants.

Dean: Executive programs, Punjab College of Business Administration, Constituent College of Mohammad Ali Jinnah University.