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When the Hindustan Times Leadership Initiative invited me to this Conference, what really attracted me was the powerful imagery of the peace dividend as the engine of progress in our region. At the same time, I must confess to some sadness that – over half a century after all the countries of our region attained independence – this truth still needs to be emphasized.
The peace dividend for South Asia is the creation of new hope and opportunity for its billion and a half people. We need no stronger justification for peace than this simple statement. The investment inputs required to reap this dividend are pragmatic policies, rational economics and popular participation.
There can be no argument about our inherent advantages, common interests and complementary strengths, which present a tremendous opportunity for our region to realize its full potential:
First and foremost, our rich and varied human resources. Our citizens have created waves around the world with their technical, financial and managerial expertise. Their energies and talents can find greater application in regional cooperative enterprises.