Late President Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh has been declared the winner of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Award for his outstanding contribution to initiation of regional cooperation in South Asia. The late President is the first recipient of the prestigious award in South Asia.
The Award will be presented to one of the family members of the late President by the Chairperson of the Twelfth SAARC Summit during the Thirteenth Summit in Dhaka in 2005.
The decision to confer the Award posthumously upon the late President was taken at the Twenty-fifth Session of the Council of Ministers in Islamabad on July 20-21.
It may be recalled that the late President took the initiative, in the early 1980s, of setting in motion the process of regional cooperation aimed at promoting overall progress and economic development of South Asia. His vision and unremitting efforts at mobilising public opinion in the region in favour of institutionalised cooperation culminated in the formation of SAARC in December 1985. The seed of regional cooperation sown by the late President continues to grow with the intensification of SAARC process. SAARC will remain a testimony to his vision and foresight in all times to come.
The proposal to establish the SAARC Award was initiated by Nepal during the Eleventh Summit it hosted in Kathmandu in January 2002.
The Award aims to encourage individuals and organisations based in South Asia to undertake programmes and activities complementing the efforts of SAARC; encourage individuals and organisations in South Asia contributing to the improvement of the conditions of women and children; and honour outstanding contributions and achievements of individuals and organisations within the region in the fields of peace and development, alleviation of poverty, protection of environment and regional cooperation.
The Award carries a purse of US$ 25,000, a gold medal and a letter of citation.