Around 350 Rover Scouts from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka are camping from 17th to 21st October 2012 in Islamabad, Pakistan for the 2nd SAARC Scouts Friendship Camp hosted under the Messenger of Peace.
This friendship camp hosted by the Pakistan Boy Scouts Association (PBSA) and inaugurated by Syed Hussain Bokhari, chairman Senate of Pakistan and Acting President of the country along with the Chief Commissioners of all the SAARC countries and Regional Director.
Participants have started enjoying the camp through the series of activities including friendship-centered activities, cultural exhibition, treasure hunt, youth forum, visit to educational places. As part of the camp, the participants took part in cultural exhibition and display of national artifacts of the different countries, and the camp song under the title peace song performed at the campfire. One highlight of the camp was the special visit to Khewra Salt Mine, located in Khewra, north of Pind Dadan Khan, Punjab, Pakistan. Khewra Salt Mine is Pakistan's largest and oldest salt mine and the world's second largest. Participants were excited to see this major tourist attraction which reportedly draws up to 250,000 visitors a year.
Considered to be the most interesting activity was the youth parliament where young people exchanged their ideas based on the camp’s theme. As part of the youth forum recommendations, common issues of young people in the South Asian region were discussed and participants identified their roles to address them.
Prior to the camp, on 17th October, a gathering of Chief Commissioners of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka was held as their annual gathering at the conference hall chaired by Chief Commissioner Justice Agha Rafiq Ahmed Khan. Chief Commissioner Khan is also the Chief Justice of Federal Shariat Court and is now the chairperson of SAANSO, a recognized body of SAARC.
The Chief Commissioners also met with H. E. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, President and Chief Scout of PBSA on 18th October at his official presidential complex who assured his support to increase Scouting activities in different parts of the country.
Annual Scout events among the SAARC countries have been a regular feature since 1990 when the first SAARC Scout Jamboree was held in Sri Lanka. Since then, Scout events continued around the SAARC area with the inclusion of Afghanistan. Apart from the camp, the Jamboree on-the-train, a regular event in Bangladesh, is popular among Scouts which is being considered as a future activity. Last year, Bhutan hosted the SAARC Scout Friendship Camp.
Image 1: © Pakistan Boy Scouts Association