NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said that the SAARC must overcome challenges like cross-border terrorism and obstruction of trade to ensure peace in the region. Speaking at an informal virtual meeting of foreign ministers of SAARC members, the EAM said, “Cross-border terrorism, blocking connectivity and obstructing trade are three key challenges that SAARC must overcome.
Only then will we see enduring peace, prosperity and security in our South Asia region.” SAARC summits are held annually but post the Uri attack, there has been no summit since 2016. India had boycotted the summit in Islamabad in 2016 in protest against the Uri attack. Bangladesh and Bhutan had also followed suit. Saying that the grouping has made progress over the past 35 years, Jaishankar said that collective prosperity of SAARC has been obstructed by terrorism and threat to national security.
“Such an environment impedes our shared objective of realising the full potential of our collective endeavour. It is, therefore, crucial that we collectively resolve to defeat the scourge of terrorism, including the forces that nurture, support and encourage it. This will generate the much needed trust and confidence to collectively build a stronger and prosperous SAARC,” he said.
Meanwhile in a virtual address at the CICA foreign ministers’ meeting, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said sustainable peace in the region would remain a dream until the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir was resolved as per the Resolutions of UNSC and the aspirations of Kashmiri people. “Brutal and inhuman military siege and communications blockade since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of last August, had destroyed life in J&K,” he said.
Reacting to statement, EAM spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “It is very typical of Pakistan to use such fora to raise bilateral and contentious issues which is inconsistent with the principles and charter of such organisations and their meetings. What else can be expected of a country that indulges in cross-border terrorism as a part of its state policy,” he said.