The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to regional cooperation under the umbrella of SAARC for promoting the welfare of the people of South Asia, improving their quality of life, economic progress, social uplift and cultural cooperation.
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Outgoing Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa—who is on a visit to Pakistan—paid a farewell call on Sartaj Aziz here Friday.
He said that due to several impediments and challenges, SAARC had been unable to fulfil the vision that was laid out for it by its founding members. He 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.
Pakistan, he added, 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 emphasised the need to overcome the difficulties that the organisation faced and expressed the hope that the 19th SAARC summit would be held in Islamabad as soon as possible.
Earlier, 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 emphasised that internal and bilateral problems of member states must not be allowed to affect the organisation, 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 (MoFA), MoFA Additional Secretary (Asia Pacific), Syed Zulfiqar Gardezi, hosted a lunch for the secretary-general which was attended by SAARC Secretary General-elect, Amjad Hussain B Sial.
Thapa, who hails from Nepal, is the 12th secretary-general of SAARC.
He completes his tenure on February 28, after which Amjad Hussain B Sial—Pakistan MoFA former special secretary—is to take charge as the next secretary-general of SAARC.