Jalandhar: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday advocated abolition of visa regime among the SAARC countries, and hoped the ongoing bilateral talks between India and Pakistan would pave way for the "historic decision".
He said, "it would help in heralding a new era of mutual trust and goodwill in the region."
Badal expressed hope that the ongoing bilateral talks between India and Pakistan "would pave way for this historic decision".
Addressing a gathering after inaugurating two-day annual conference of the SAARC Surgical Care Society here today, the chief minister also recalled his youthful days spent in Lahore while pursuing graduation in a local college there.
"The vibrant memories of my college days, especially those related to the mouth watering food of Lahore city, are still fresh in my mind," he said.
If the visa regime is abolished then I will visit the (Lahore) city every weekend to have the food there," 84-year-old Akali stalwart said.
Badal emphasised the need of setting up SAARC hospitals in every member country for providing quality health services to the people of the region.
"Setting up of SAARC hospitals is the need of the hour as it will go a long way in delivering best health care facilities to the people besides promoting the people-to- people contact in the region," he said.
He also said that the renowned surgeons and doctors of the SAARC countries should offer their services to these hospitals, where cheap and quality treatment should be provided to the common man.
Offering land and other infrastructure to set up one such hospital in Punjab, Badal said the SAD-BJP government was duty bound to fulfil such a noble cause.
The chief minister also impressed upon the SAARC surgeons converged on the occasion to make Punjab a base of their institution for carrying out research and other activities.
Laying thrust on strengthening of ties between medical fraternities of the SAARC nations, the chief minister said it would benefit the people of these developing nations by providing them access to quality health care services.
"It was indeed a matter of pride for Punjab that a mega conference was being organised here in which 600 surgeons from SAARC countries and others would discuss their expertise besides focusing on improving health care facilities in these countries," Badal said.
He said the thrust of such conferences should be on providing access of modern and quality surgical care and facility to the rural areas of the SAARC countries.
Lauding the role of members of SAARC Surgical Care Society to support and educate surgeons and doctors from under-developed countries to update their diagnostic and surgical skills, Badal said that mission of the Society to relieve the suffering mankind from diseases was highly commendable.