| Commerce Minister Faruk Khan yesterday said regional cooperation in trade and commerce or lack of it has been used as a 'weapon of politics' in South Asia.
"We need to get out of this unhealthy politics," said Khan in a written speech at a discussion on the role of regional cooperation to attain inclusive growth in South Asia.
The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a leading research organisation in Bangladesh, organised the session at the Fourth South Asian Economic Summit at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel. The summit ended yesterday.
The minister also stressed regional water management to boost hydropower production and minimise impacts of floods in the region.
Khan admitted that Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) states could not move at the expected pace.
He blamed bureaucrats for delays in decision making. "I saw how slowly things move," he said.
Lyonpo Om Pradhan, chairman of Druk Holding and Investment, Bhutan, said South Asia has about 47 percent of world's poor and the region advocates for interacting with each other as friends and neighbours.
"Confrontation, historical grudges and hostile attitudes will not result in cooperation, and ultimately it is we who will bear the loss," said Pradhan.
"An atmosphere of peace, stability and trust has to be created," he said.
CPD Trustee Board Member M Syeduzzaman, also a former finance minister, chaired the session.