ISLAMABAD- Experts call upon the SAARC countries to accelerate the process of establishing a South Asian University to foster the 'regional consciousness and to ensure peoples union in the Area to collectively deal with the common challenges of illiteracy, poverty, violence, militarization, inequality and lack of interaction. Prof Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, Professor of International Relations at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and visiting research fellow at the SDPI, Dr Saba Gul Khattak highlighted the need of a South Asian University for SAARC member countries at a seminar entitled Fostering regional consciousness: the organisation and planning of South Asian University organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Monday. Prof Imtiaz Ahmed, citing the thirteenth and fourteenth SAARC summits, where the idea of this university was discussed and an Inter-governmental Steering Committee was formed to advance the process, said that the agreement has been reached so far over critical issues of students ratio, faculty ratio, and the management of the University. He said that the main campus of the university would be established at Delhi, India while different specialised campuses would be established in each SAARC member country with maximum autonomy. However all the campuses should be decided simultaneously since the rules and regulations were in the formation phase and it would be difficult to change or alter them once they are agreed upon he underlined. Talking of funding, he said that the university campuses would be established under public-private partnerships where host country would provide land and support for infrastructure building while institutional and running costs would be met by shared funds adding government of India has already provided 100 hectares land for building the main campus. Dr Ahmed said that initially post-graduate level programmes and short training courses will be started at these campuses while the scope of this inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural educational approach would be extended to other educational levels. He said that the idea of such university is taken from University of West Indies while Asian University of Women; Dhaka is also built on similar model. The materialisation of this university will bring together students and faculties from all South Asian countries which is critical not only to those states but to the region, he emphasised. Earlier, Dr. Saba giving brief historical context about the imagination of this university said that the common challenges of violence, poverty, environment, water, refugees etc across the border and intra-countries led the academicians and experts to think about such an initiative. Further elaborating the vision, mission and realisation of South Asian University initial concept paper, she quoted Professor Imtiaz Ahmed that the education in South Asia is a failed project. Citing the important violence related historical events across South Asia and current wave of violence in each country, she said that Pakistan is not burning alone rather all of the SA countries are burning. Dr Saba resolved that the peoples union of South Asians is an important way forward to tackle common challenges of poverty, violence, injustices, and lack of interaction. She further urged free exchange of people across border and joint institutions to investigate the cases of violence and war crimes. Dr Saba narrating the common history of South Asia lamented over the systems of insecurity and jingoism, and dominance of narrow state-narratives about historical facts. Its not a traditional university rather its different campuses and exchange of alternate narratives would better enable us to tackle these issues critical to South Asian collective consciousness she added.