ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan on Friday reaffirmed its commitment to regional cooperation under the umbrella of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for promoting welfare of the people of South Asia, improving their quality of life, economic progress, social uplift and cultural cooperation.
In a meeting with the outgoing Secretary General of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Arjun Bahadur Thapa who paid a farewell call on him in Islamabad, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that that due to several impediments and challenges, SAARC had been unable to fulfill the vision that was laid out for it by its founding members.
Sartaj Aziz believed that the SAARC Secretariat could play an important role as a catalyst to bring all the member states together and ensure timely and effective implementation of program and activities that would benefit the region.
The adviser said that Pakistan was looking forward to welcoming SAARC leaders for the 19th Summit that was scheduled in Islamabad in November but was postponed when India impeded the SAARC process and violated the spirit of the SAARC Charter. He said that Pakistan remained committed to hosting the 19th SAARC Summit at Islamabad at the earliest so that the objectives of regional cooperation under the SAARC umbrella could be pursued more vigorously.
The SAARC Secretary General emphasized the need to overcome the difficulties that the organization faced and expressed the hope that the 19th SAARC Summit would be held in Islamabad as soon as possible.
Earlier, Arjun Bahadur Thapa also held a meeting with Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry.
The foreign secretary appreciated Thapa’s contributions to the SAARC process and reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to the SAARC objectives. He also emphasized that internal and bilateral problems of member states must not be allowed to affect the organization and that 19th SAARC Summit should be held as soon as possible to put the whole SAARC process back on track.
On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Additional Secretary (Asia Pacific) Syed Zulfiqar Gardezi hosted a lunch for the Secretary General which was attended by Secretary General-elect of the SAARC Amjad Hussian B. Sial.