The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) with a history of mutual distrust and lukewarm enthusiasm among the member states has failed to achieve its objective, which has created a communication gap.
Media is, therefore, also indifferent to the issue of regional cooperation.
A Nepalese media academic expressed the view on Friday at a seminar on SAARC Opportunities and Challenges for Mass Media Perspective at Hotel Sonargaon in Dhaka.
The seminar was inaugurated by Information Minister Hasanul Hoque Inu. Syed Badrul Ahsan, Associate Editor of The Daily Observer and Kundan Aryal, professor of Tribhuvan University, Nepal, presented keynote papers.
The Director General of SAARC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Laxmi Bilas Koirala, Director of SAARC Information Centre, Nepal, Mortuza Ahmed, Secretary of Information Ministry, Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, president of BFUJ, Shyamal Dutta, editor of Bhorer Kagoj also spoke on the occasion.
The academic remarked that the prodigious obstacle on the way of to achieve SAARC dream is not only a trust deficit among the member countries. Despite conflict resolution efforts, peace has been elusive in the region. A collective security initiative could be achieved between conflicting nations, Prof Aryal said.
SAARC has experienced several hiccups from distrust and conflict since it was born in 1980, said Syed Badrul Ahsan. He said that he was optimistic about the future of SAARC in the coming years.
Both Prof Aryal and Badrul Ahsan identified several challenges for the media in the South Asian region and recommended the need to promote free, fair and fearless media contents in order to develop the media as credible and influential outlets within the region.
Hasanul Hoque Inu while addressing the media seminar called upon all to form a grand alliance to overcome the South Asian regional communalism, cross border terrorism and poverty. He urged the media to exercise its role to help achieve the goal.
Elaborating on the media landscape, the Information Minister said that the flow of media contents was not smooth in the region. He also cited serious limitations in movement of journalists in the region.
He said that there is a need for agreed definition of reasonable restriction of freedom of press, which is pivotal in strengthening pluralist democracy in the region.
Inu underscored professional mindset journalists to exercise free and responsible journalism to ensure a vibrant press.
Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul said that the media leaders were prepared for further dialogue to discuss jurisdiction of the media.
Bulbul said that media laws can remain within the border, instead of transgressing into uncharted avenues. He, however, said that media laws could be different for different media of print, electronic and social media.