Pm on ICAPP informal
Co-Chairs of the ICAPP Standing Committee,
Excellencies and Colleagues,
Hon. Ministers and leaders of political parties,
Representatives of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen !
I am extremely pleased to be with you in this informal get-together. I wish to extend a cordial welcome to you all on behalf of the Government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) as well as on my own behalf. I am equally delighted to know that you had a fruitful interaction on ways and means of further activating our group for our collective advantage as the International Conference of the Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) is going to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its inception this year.
Distinguished Friends and Colleagues,
You have already given an important opportunity to me to share my views and thoughts with you during the inaugural function of the 12th Standing Committee meeting of the ICAPP that started in Kathmandu today. I spoke on the aspect of valuable contributions made by some of our esteemed friends who may rightly be taken as the founding fathers and moving spirit of the movement whose ultimate goal is to promote co-operation among political parties and countries in the region for our collective benefit. Let me reiterate our firm belief that ICAPP has a great role to play in the contemporary world scenario where there is a greater danger of further aggravation of the divides between the haves and have-nots.
As we have to collectively work for peace, harmony and prosperity in Asia, my thoughts go back to the days when the ICAPP was in a formative period and our founding fathers were making all efforts to inject dynamism to the group. I recall with pride and honour my first meeting with His Excellency Mr. Jose Claveria de Venecia, Jr. in the United States in 2000. When we had our first founding meeting of the group in Manila in September 2000, 46 political parties from 20 countries took part. The number of participants has swollen as we have already held so many meetings at regular intervals and our deliberations and recommendations have started to show positive results. Many leaders like Benazir Bhutto who were associated with the movement are unfortunately no longer with us. Many leaders who are present here have taken the group to a new level by their active and energetic involvements to impart a greater role to the ICAPP. As the Nepalese saying aptly goes, we should never forget the stellar contributions made by those who initiated the primary task of digging the well and we all are here to see the tremendous impact the ICAPP has made after ten years since our founding members started the spadework. We should all pledge to take this movement to a new height for promoting an era of co-operation, friendship, prosperity and stability in our region.
Please allow me to spell out in brief the contributions of at least three of our friends who may be considered as the moving spirit of the ICAPP.
Our distinguished Co-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the ICAPP His Excellency Mr. Jose Claveria de Venecia, Jr. has served as the Founding Chairman of the group. He has made sterling contributions since the formation of the ICAPP. He is a versatile and multifaceted personality coming from a legendary and influential family. He combines diplomatic experience, business acumen and a high level of political leadership. I truly believe that his multiple role in his country has great relevance to my country which is on the verge of a historic transformation and I look forward to getting his valuable inputs and professional feedback. Mr. Venecia has made immense contributions to the enrichment of the country’s economy as an enterprising businessman by promoting oil and gas exploration. Credited for the development initiative in the Middle East, he is rightly regarded as a pioneer for promoting overseas employment for millions of his countrymen in the region and for hefty increase in the flow of remittances for the Philippines.
As a distinguished and accomplished Speaker of the House of Representatives for five times, he has been a top-ranking political personality in the country having served his countrymen in different capacities. His debt for equity programme has deservedly won admiration for its positive impact on the alleviation of poverty in Philippines. He was an important figure in the formation of the rainbow coalition consisting of parties of different political and ideological persuasions. Such an accommodative approach helped facilitate him to reach out to insurgents and political rebels. As a Peace Envoy, Mr. Venecia became an architect of ceasefire and historic peace agreement in the country. He has also served as the President of his party.
The other Co-Chairman of the ICAPP Standing Committee His Excellency Chung Eui-yong has distinguished himself by his able leadership. Also Secretary-General of the ICAPP Secretariat in Seoul, Mr. Chung has been a senior political figure having served his country as the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the United Democratic Party and Member of the Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea. Since he has taken charge of the secretariat, ICAPP has become more active and vibrant organization in the region.
The third stellar figure in our group is no less than His Excellency Mushahid Hussain Sayed who is a versatile genius. He has equally distinguished as the youngest editor of a newspaper, Minister, leader of the Pakistani delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Secretary-General of the Pakistan Muslim League, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a presidential candidate. In 1999, the global human rights watchdog organization, Amnesty International, declared him as Prisoner of Conscience.
I have also shed light on the current situation in my country and major yardsticks of the foreign policy that Nepal has consistently followed. As many of you are kindly aware, it is a herculean task to lead a country with many constraints and difficulties and devoid of resources. It is more so when you have to manage a political transition of such a historic and long-term nature as we have faced after the political developments of 2006. In any country, it is very difficult to manage a political transition. In Nepal, as we embark on institutionalizing a systemic change with greater inclusion and judicious mainstreaming of the underprivileged and marginalised sections of the society, we have to confront with an admixture of challenges and opportunities. While we should move ahead to consolidate the political achievements of the historic People’s Movement of 2006, we have to exercise an extra caution to ensure that the social harmony, unity and integrity of the country could be maintained and rapid social and economic transformation expedited. I have already highlighted during the opening session some of the priorities of Government in terms of economic development.
As we are entering into an era of peace and stability after the promulgation of the new constitution, the Government is keen to create an investment-friendly and suitable atmosphere at home to make an optimum utilization of domestic resources and attract external investments to promote social and economic development of the country. Exploitation of our bountiful sources of hydro-power, development of infrastructures like airports and highways, establishment of agro-based industries, human resource development, and promotion of our country for the development of tourism are some of the core areas that can have long-term impact in our search for faster development.
The Government of Nepal has given top priority to develop a second East-West Highway along the mid-hill region that can act as a catalyst for the equitable social and economic progress of the country with particular focus on the development of our comparatively backward regions and betterment of the livelihood of the people. We are keen to develop Lumbini as an internal Buddhist circuit involving Lumbini, Ramnagar (Debdaha) and Tilaurakot with the focus on Lumbini, the sacred birthplace of Lord Buddha. By improving inter-state connections with relevant tourism spots in India, we would like to develop another Buddhist transnational circuit like Bodhgaya (place for Enlightenment), Sarnath (place for Learning) and Kushinagar (place for attaining Nirwana) for attracting Buddhist pilgrims to our country. We have declared 2011 as the Tourism Year and planning to bring one million tourists in to Nepal which is just a double than the present number of tourists visit Nepal.
As the people and Government are engaged in ushering in a new Nepal, we want to proceed with unity of purpose and co-operation with all political forces in the country and seek goodwill, support and co-operation from all of you and your parties and people.
Excellencies and Friends,
I must realize that at the personal level, it has been a great learning experience for me after my association with the ICAPP for the last ten years. I could benefit tremendously from my fruitful interactions with such a galaxy of talents and expertise in running parties and governments in your respective countries. As I am entrusted with the responsibility of managing the historic political transition of my country, I fondly recall your valuable suggestions and feedback on the modality of ensuring a smooth and safe landing of our peace process and accelerating the rapid social and economic transformation of the country. I personally believe that while political stability and durable peace are the necessary pre-requisites for development and progress, it is ultimately economic and social development that can ensure an enduring peace and stability in the country. In this situation, the developing and least developed countries are feeling the brunt of exclusion and deprivation despite tremendous levels of social, economic and technological advancements in the world in recent decades.
While I look forward to greater interactions and contacts with all of you in future, I seek your constant support and co-operation in helping Nepal as we are committed to take the peace process to its positive and meaningful conclusion, draft a suitable constitution within the next three months and promote social and economic development of the country.
Finally, I wish your meeting all success and hope that your stay in Nepal would be memorable and comfortable.
Thank you all.
February 27, 2010