Public Accountability still unfinished agenda in Pak: Envoy

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New Delhi, Mar 6 (UNI) Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik today said ensuring public accountability was still an unfinished agenda in his country.

Addressing the Regional Forum of the Ministers of Social Development of the SAARC nations here today, he said that though efforts had been made for some form of accountability through a 'Freedom of Information Ordinance', still more was needed to be done.

The issue was of great concern to the Pakistani Government, said Mr Malik in his remarks.

Meanwhile, the SAARC Ministers today agreed to work for having in place a right to information legislation to check corrupt practices and improve governance at the local, state and regional level.

Under a declaration adopted here at the end of a two-day conference, they also agreed for a mid-term review of the follow up of the decisions taken at the Forum's first meeting in Bhurban and the present one in New Delhi.

Briefing mediapersons about the outcome of the two-day conference, Minister of state for Human Resource Development D Purandeswari said the Forum made a progress from the last meeting.

She said the Ministers stressed the empowerment of the people and civil society of the region through transparency, accountability and right to information leading to better governance and social development.

The participating countries emphasised the need to establish the institutional framework of this forum in order to implement the plan of action outlined at Bhurban and New Delhi.

The participants also called upon the Member States to assist Afghanistan in addressing its special needs in education, technical vocational training and development of new technology, the protection of disabled persons and support of projects for vulnerable people, the protection of children at risk and the control of the use of narcotics and drug trafficking.

The Member countries also resolved to strengthen cooperation among them in the field of Social Science research through i). Exchange of Best Practices, ii) Exchange of Social Scientists iii) Pooling and exchange of information on research outcomes and iv) Horizontal cooperation projects networking social science research institutions.

The two-day conference was inaugurated by Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh here yesterday.

As a sequel to the First Forum of Ministers on Social Development of South Asia who met on May 26-27, 2006 in Bhurban, Pakistan, this Meeting was the second in the series of UNESCO's and the Regions initiative to organise a network of Asian Ministers of Social Development.

The purpose of the Forum was to establish a network among the countries of the region to address issues related to social justice and development in the overall theme of the social sciences research and its policy-linkages and in particular, the contribution that social sciences can provide to the policy making process.

The Ministers of Social Development of South Asian countries, from Afghanistan, Maldives, Ministers of Women, Children and Social Welfare from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka and Minister of Education from Bhutan participated in the meeting.

UNI NAZ YA RN1915

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