"Unresolved political disputes are undermining the potential of the region to emerge as a robust economic grouping," Ashraf said without referring to any particular dispute between countries in South Asia.
"Heavy responsibility rests on the shoulders of leaderships of the region to show statesmanship, vision and courage to resolve the differences," he said in his address at a media summit organised in Islamabad by the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS).
Ashraf said if people and their welfare are at the heart of public policy, it is "important that the process of conflict resolution is initiated in line with the people's aspirations and canons of international justice".
The media, as opinion makers, is better positioned to remove misunderstandings and help build an atmosphere of peace and friendship among countries of the SAARC region, he remarked.
"What our region direly needs is peace and economic development," he said.
Ashraf was speaking to a gathering that included Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, Essel Group and Zee chairman Subash Chandra, APNS president Sarmad Ali and delegates from SAARC countries.
He said the digital revolution had triggered a debate on whether the print media will be able to remain competitive and relevant.
The summit's theme of "The role of newspapers in an evolving media ecosystem" provides an opportunity for participants to share their ideas and experiences, he said.
Globalisation has brought different regions closer and people have greater stakes in their collective well-being, Ashraf said.
"Being integrated regionally as well as globally is not a matter of choice but of necessity," he added.
Pakistan attaches "great importance" to SAARC and believes the grouping has great potential to become a model for cooperation.
"We have played our role in this regard and are ready to go the extra mile," Ashraf said.
The media is also a "bulwark of fundamental rights and human liberties and acts as a watchdog against any excesses by the government", Ashraf said.
It should, however, respect social values and adhere to the regulatory mechanism in place lest it "encourages chaos in the society", he said.
Islamabad: The leadership of South Asia should show statesmanship and courage to resolve differences as unresolved political disputes are holding back the region's emergence as an economic grouping, Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said Wednesday.
First Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 22:32