Tarique receives 1st Saarc Award for Zia |
The first Saarc Award 2004 was conferred posthumously on the late president Ziaur Rahman yesterday as the dreamer of Saarc, who had first mooted the idea of regional cooperation in South Asia.
Tarique Rahman, eldest son of the late president, formally received the award on behalf of the Zia family from the outgoing Saarc Chairperson and Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz at the opening session of the two-day 13th summit began at the Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre (BCFCC).
The award carries a purse of $ 25,000, a gold medal and a letter of citation.
The decision to confer the award upon the late president was taken at the 25th session of the Council of Ministers held in Islamabad in July this year.
Before the opening of the 13th summit, the Saarc leaders visited the grave of the late president and offered floral tributes.
Prior to presenting the award, the Pakistani prime minister described Ziaur Rahman as a great visionary, who took initiative in bringing all the South Asian nations under one banner to fight poverty and improve the living standard of the people.
Shaukat Aziz said the late president of Bangladesh wrote letters to all Saarc leaders in the early1980s presenting his vision about the need for regional cooperation aimed at the overall prosperity of the region.
His [Zia's] vision came to reality through the establishment of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in December 1985, the outgoing Saarc chairman added.
Saarc Secretary General Chenkyab Dorji read out the citation, which stated that the late leader set in motion the process for the creation of the Saarc.
"The seed of Saarc was sown by late President Ziaur Rahman....Saarc will remain as a testimony to his vision and foresight," he said, adding that the award is a recognition of the vision and initiative of Ziaur Rahman for establishment of the seven-nation forum.
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in his summit speech said the vision of president Ziaur Rahman helped move forward the idea of Saarc. "It is only appropriate that we honour his memory at this summit with the first Saarc Award," he added.