Bhutanese PM urges collective efforts for prosperity


ISLAMABAD – Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Thinley Sunday said that South Asian states should intensify efforts to promote regional trade, tourism, protect environment and eradicate terrorism from the region as their prosperity lies in collective efforts.
He was addressing a press conference after his first visit to Pakistan. The Bhutanese prime minister, who is also Chairman of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), emphasized the need for a more regional approach to address all the issues being confronted by the members of the SAARC because they share a common heritage and their future too lies in common efforts.
“There are some psychological, historical and political barriers which are in some ways insurmountable but despite these barriers the achievements by the SAARC are commendable and demonstrate the will to work together,” Thinley said, adding “I believe much progress has been made to realise the vast potential for regional cooperation in SAARC.”
Speaking about the achievements of the SAARC states, the Bhutanese PM especially mentioned the establishment of South Asian Free Trade Area to raise intra-SAARC trade volume which at present is $ 1 billion, trade and services agreements , start of courses at first the SAARC University and $ 300 million South Asia Development Fund.
Talking about the issue of terrorism, the Bhutanese prime minister said that though SAARC had agreed to combat climate change threat but it was unfortunate that terrorism had taken roots in the region. “We need to make individual and collective efforts to get rid of the menace of terrorism,” he said, adding that the SAARC countries had developed a mechanism for sharing intelligence to counter the threat.
He said Bhutan would host a conference of the SAARC home ministers in August to discuss ways to counter terrorism. Lauding Pakistani leadership and people, the Bhutanese PM said that Pakistan had made valiant efforts against terror and hoped that the country will succeed in combating the challenge.
Speaking on the issue of Pak-India relations, the Bhutanese PM appreciated talks between the two countries and SAARC always provided a chance to the leaders of the two nations to interact with each other. “We hope that Pakistan and India will continue dialogue to resolve the outstanding issues including that of Kashmir,” he said.
When questioned about risks involved in the two countries’ nuclear facilities, in reference to what had happened in Japan, Thinley said despite all the precautionary and security measures, nuclear installations always remain hazardous.
Talking about situation in the Middle East, he said although UN Security Council had adopted measures in that regard but Bhutan believed in peaceful solution to the problems.