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Next people’s SAARC will be held in Pakistan


KARACHI – Pakistan’s civil society took part in various activities organised by different human rights, labour, women rights, minorities and Dalit rights organisations at the people’s Summit of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) convergence held at Kathmandu, Nepal from November 22 to 24, 2014, ahead of SAARC Summit.
Next people’s SAARC regional convergence will be held in Pakistan, parallel to the official 19th SAARC Summit next year, said Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Karamat Ali, during a press conference on Friday at Karachi Press Club, according to a press release. Chief Executive of Hisar Foundation Dr Sono Khangharani, General Secretary of Sindh Labour Federation Shafeeq Ghauri, Ellahi Bukhsh of Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) and Riffat Razi were also present, it said.
Karamat Ali said that people’s SAARC is a platform of the civil society organisations of the South Asia and it holds meetings, conferences, workshops, rallies and other activities ahead of the official Summit of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) since 1994. This year, a large number of rights activists and members of civil society organisations from across all eight South Asian countries attended three days activities held at Kathmandu, Nepal.
Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bamdev Gautam inaugurated the people’s SAARC convergence and Nepal’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Pandey was the chief guest at the closing ceremony.  About 25 Pakistani civil society organisations’ representatives attended various seminars, workshops and meetings during the three day convergence including meetings on labour, minorities, Dalits and human rights.
A roundtable of South Asian Labour Forum (SALF) was attended by over 70 trade union and workers leaders on November 23. The meeting decided to work for a uniform minimum wages for the workers of all South Asian countries. Similarly, the labour leaders decided to form a regional network of garments’ workers. At a meeting on minorities rights, the participants decided to form a South Asian Commission to record and report the cases of atrocities against minorities.
A large number of vulnerable communities including Dalits attended the gathering. Eighty per cent of the participants in all the events of convergence were youth which is an encouraging sign, it said.

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