ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: A Ceremony was organized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in Islamabad on Monday in connection with the 35th SAARC Charter Day.
The Ambassador from SAARC Member Countries and Senior Officials at MoFA attend the event.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood’s remarks at the 35th SAARC Charter Day Ceremony
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Allow me to begin by expressing our sincere gratitude to everyone joining us on this auspicious occasion to celebrate the 35th SAARC Charter Day.
Thirty-five years ago, our region embarked upon an important and visionary venture by establishing the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.
Leaders with wisdom and foresight recognized the common problems, interests and aspirations of the peoples of South Asia.
They decided to commit themselves, and the new Association, to the worthy objectives of accelerating economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region.
They resolved to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potentials.
They affirmed strict adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter and Non-alignment, particularly respect for cardinal principles such as sovereign equality, mutual benefit, and peaceful settlement of disputes.
The adoption of the SAARC Charter in 1985 ushered in a new era of cooperation among the Member States, representing one-fifth of humanity.
In its essence, the Charter encapsulates the conviction that the challenges faced by the region can be overcome through regional cooperation.
It underlines that the tremendous potential and opportunities that South Asia is blessed with can be harnessed for our common good.
And, most importantly, the Charter underscores the imperative of working together in a spirit of shared responsibility and partnership for the well-being and prosperity of all peoples of South Asia.
It is gratifying that the scope and substance of cooperation within the SAARC framework has expanded substantially since its inception 35 years ago.
From a declaratory phase, the Association has decisively moved to that of implementation.
Indeed, the Association has matured into a viable platform for substantive engagement and meaningful collaboration.
Today, SAARC embodies a forum for building trust, confidence and sustained interaction to promote and engender tangible cooperation in diverse areas.
Endowed with tremendous resources, the creativity, innovation, enterprise and determination of the people of South Asia represent the key assets and drivers for our pursuit of progress and socio-economic development.
Occasions such as these are opportune moments to reflect on our shortcomings as well.
Despite the progress made so far, South Asia remains the least integrated, and one of the most under-developed, regions of the world.
We remain beset by numerous challenges – including poverty, illiteracy, disease, climate change, state terrorism against people under illegal occupation, and long-standing unresolved disputes.
It is imperative to change this paradigm.
Our shared desires for promoting peace, stability, amity and progress in the region require charting a different course.
We must craft a new vision for SAARC that builds upon the experiences of the past, and on our collective strengths, to guide the SAARC process in the medium and long term.
SAARC must become an effective instrument of integrated and resulted-oriented regional cooperation.
We must summon the requisite political will, restore the Association’s vitality, and realize the region’s immense potential in myriad of sectors from agriculture to trade to tourism.
As a founding member, Pakistan reaffirms its abiding commitment to the SAARC Charter and the noble purposes and principles enshrined in it.
As stated by Prime Minister Imran Khan in his message, we also underline our hope that the hiatus created in SAARC’s continuous progression would be removed, thus enabling the SAARC nations to forge ahead on the path of regional cooperation for development and to achieve their full potential.
We must remember that the sum is always bigger than the part; and that the cause of collective good is always larger than individual predilections.
For us, in Pakistan, it remains a conviction that SAARC will go forward, as the march of history and the progress of mankind cannot be stalled.
I thank you all!