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Srinagar, May 28 (UNI) Stressing the need for regional cooperation, mainly between India and Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Lt General (Retd) S K Sinha today said it would help wipe out political bitterness of the past.

Delivering his presidential address at the 3-day International seminar on Regional Economic Integration among South East Asian Countries at Kashmir University here, the Governor referred to the avowed objective of SAARC and said, ''We must strive for an economic union in South Asia on the pattern of the European Union.'' The General said the concept of nation states emerged in Europe but now the boundaries of nation states are melting under the pressure of supra-national economic requirements.

He referred to the European Union and asked if France and Germany could become close allies after fighting wars for hundreds of years, why could not India and Pakistan join hands and fight the common enemies of ignorance, poverty and disease.

''There lies the salvation for the region as a whole and for the State of Jammu and Kashmir, in particular,'' he added.

The Governor said on the pattern of the European Union, economic groupings have taken place in North America and ASEAN.

Similarly, in South Asia there is SAARC and SAFTA for removing trade barriers, he said, adding, however, that there were special features that have to be taken into account in formation of the South Asian Economic Union.

With a population of 1.5 billion, South Asia will be the largest such grouping in the world and with maximum population below poverty line. It is the poorest and the most populated group with India representing 72 per cent of the region's population and 79 per cent of its GDP.

He pointed out that this might pose a problem with smaller countries being apprehensive of India's dominant position.

He added that on the positive side, it can be said the three largest members of SAARC -- India, Bangladesh and Pakistan -- constituted a single entity till 1947 and have close historical and cultural links.

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