ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday that Pakistan wants to transform the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) into a strong trade and economic bloc.
“Pakistan wants peace and stability in the region,” the premier said in a statement before departure to Nepal to attend the 18th SAARC Summit.
“We want to transform SAARC into a strong trade and economic bloc on the pattern of European Union,” Sharif said, adding that it is possible only in an environment of peace and economic cooperation.
The 18th SAARC Summit is being held in Kathmandu on November 26-27 with its theme “Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity”.
The summit is taking place after an interval of three years as the last summit was held in 2011 in Maldives.
The SAARC is an economic and geopolitical organisation of eight countries that are primarily located in South Asia. Its members include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“Pakistan attaches high importance to SAARC and is committed to the SAARC process,” the foreign office said on November 23.
“Pakistan firmly believes that given the resources, SAARC region has the potential to become the engine for global economic growth for the 21st century,” it added.
On the sidelines of the event, the Pakistan’s prime minister will meet other leaders of SAARC countries to discuss issues of bilateral and regional interest, the foreign office said.
It is also a possibility that Nawaz Sharif holds meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the SAARC summit, though no formal meeting between the two leaders is scheduled yet.