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PM Aziz proposes 5 point road map for increasing cooperation amongst SAARC countries

04 April, 2007

PM Shaukat Aziz proposes 5 point road map for increasing cooperation amongst SAARC countries
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NEW DELHI: Asking SAARC nations to leverage their strength and overcome common challenges Pakistan has given a five point road map of increasing cooperation amongst SAARC countries and has stressed on creating an environment of peace, progress and prosperity in the South Asia region.

Addressing the two day 14th SAARC summit in New Delhi Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said, "We as the leaders of South Asia, bear on our shoulders the hopes and aspirations of our peoples. It is our responsibility to ensure for them and our future generations, a region blessed with peace, progress and prosperity; an environment free of hunger and disease; and a life of hope and opportunity. We must analyse our strengths and weaknesses and do a reality check of what we have achieved and what still remains to be done. It is time for us to seize the moment, to leverage our potential and overcome our challenges. Let us move from debate and deliberations to concrete actions".

Presented a five point roadmap for achieving this goal the Prime Minister said First of all it is essential that we promote an environment of genuine peace and security in South Asia, since there is clearly a direct co-relation between security and development. This requires us to resolve the differences and disputes within and between our countries through dialogue and compromise.

Second: And as a consequence of the first; build mutual trust and confidence, thereby removing the obstacle of the trust deficit which has hampered meaningful cooperation in the region.

Third: Reinforce and uphold the principles of peaceful coexistence especially to ensure respect for sovereign equality among member States of SAARC.

Fourth: Build inter-dependencies and sharing of best practices so that we help each other to help ourselves. A shared desire for regional cooperation will not suffice, we need to have real and tangible benefits that accrue equally to all sides in order to make such cooperation possible.

Fifth: Promote a level-playing field for a truly effective regional division of labour and production. As a first step, this would require a truly open environment for regional trade devoid of all types of barriers to free trade.

Congratulating Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on assuming the office of the Chairperson of SAARC Prime Minister said that he is confident that under his able leadership, SAARC will make substantial progress towards realizing the great future that we envisage for our organization.

Welcoming Afghanistan, Peoples Republic of China, Japan, Republic of Korea, the United States and the European Union for their formal association with SAARC he said their presence here underscores the growing relevance of SAARC in the international community and the extent of its footprint in the world. Pakistan has always advocated such interaction, as we believe that this would open up vast possibilities and opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation.

Calling for making SAARC a more vibrant and effective organization the prime minister stressed on removing disputes and mistrust prevailing in the South Asia region said that we have remained mired in conflict management. The consequent drain on our energies has held us back from achieving the goals that we have set for ourselves in the SAARC Charter.

The SAARC Development Goals, our social agenda, our plans for enhancement of trade and regional connectivity as well as commitment to promote people to people contacts, all have the potential to transform the socio-economic landscape of our region. To realize their promise, we should make SAARC goal oriented, practical and pragmatic. The focus should be on implementation of our decisions, translating the potential of SAARC into tangible terms and prioritising its activities, he said.

He said we must prioritize the activities of SAARC which include enhancement of trade and economic activity, which must, however, show sensitivity to the need for creating a level playing field, market access and requirements of development in each member state.

Promoting interconnectivity especially through improvement of infrastructure, region-wide transportation and communication links.

Promotion of energy security, including the concept of an Energy Ring, as proposed by the Islamabad Summit in 2004.

Poverty alleviation and promotion of health and education, which must remain a high priority.

Protection of the environment and sustainable development with particular focus on conservation and management of water and natural resources.

Ensuring food security through measures such as the SAARC Food Bank, which is the first step towards achieving food security in our region.

Reach out to other Organizations and countries and adopt an inclusive approach with openness to interaction, especially with our larger Asian neighbourhood.

Take immediate measures to strengthen the Secretariat regarding which we have made several proposals aimed at bringing greater efficiency and business like, result oriented approach in the working of our Organization.

Prime Minister said that SAARC must capture the imagination of our peoples in order for us to be assured of success and hoped that the Delhi Summit will be remembered as the turning point in SAARC`s history.

SAARC, comprising of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, was established in 1985. It is the first time in the SAARC history for China, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, and the United States to attend the summit as observers.

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