Nepalese PM urges SAARC member states to give fresh impetus to stalled regional bloc

SAARC has not been very effective since 2016 as its biennial summits have not taken place since the last one in Kathmandu in 2014.

Published: 08th December 2020 11:29 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th December 2020 11:29 PM   |  A+A-

Nepal prime minister

Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli (File photo | AFP)


KATHMANDU: Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Tuesday urged the SAARC member states to give fresh impetus to the stalled regional body, saying that time has come to move forward with "concrete action" on the ground with needed political will and commitment.

In his message on the occasion of the 36th Charter Day of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Oli also said that the special day will "inspire all of us to foster mutual trust, understanding and cooperation as well as to deepen regional integration for peace and prosperity."

"Time has come to move forward with concrete action in the ground with needed political will and commitment," said Oli, whose country has been holding the Chairmanship of the SAARC grouping since 2014.

"Giving fresh impetus to the stalled SAARC process including through the early convening of the Summit can rekindle hope among our people and provide ground to move forward," he added.

SAARC has not been very effective since 2016 as its biennial summits have not taken place since the last one in Kathmandu in 2014.

The 2016 SAARC summit was to be held in Islamabad.

But after the terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18 that year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to "prevailing circumstances".

The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet.

SAARC summits are usually held biennially and hosted by member states in alphabetical order.

The member state hosting the summit assumes the Chair of the Association.

In Islamabad, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the COVID-19 pandemic was a reminder that the people in South Asia should work together to face common challenges.

"Now is the time to come forward to pool our resources, rather than look inwards, for providing a better future to the vulnerable segments of our societies through the platform provided by SAARC," he said.

He said that the SAARC Charter was envisioned to promote regional cooperation and to accelerate the pace of social and economic development in South Asia and the Association encapsulates the hopes and aspirations of one fifth of humanity.

Khan said that Pakistan as a founding member of SAARC attaches great importance to the bloc's success and reaffirms its commitment to the objectives and purposes of its Charter.

"It is only through adhering to the principles of sovereign equality and mutual respect among Member States, that we would be able to utilise the true potential of SAARC and achieve our cherished goal of a prosperous and developed South Asia," said Khan.

He said Pakistan's pivotal geo-economic location offers a great opportunity for the region.

But due to longstanding unresolved disputes amongst the members, SAARC countries were unable to take advantage of Pakistan's potential as a melting pot for positive economic interest, he added.

"I hope that the SAARC Process would be allowed to move ahead without artificial obstacles being erected in its progress and SAARC would be enabled to function as an effective instrument of regional cooperation," he said.

In his message, Prime Minister Oli said that the SAARC Charter characterises South Asia's shared vision, collective resolve and mutual pursuit to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region through eradication of poverty, accelerated economic growth and advancement in socio-cultural development.

He noted that the SAARC has achieved several important milestones as a common forum for promoting mutual understanding and cooperation in the region in its journey of 36 years.

Prime Minister Oli also said that as the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an unprecedented challenge affecting not only health and economy but also social life and livelihoods in the region and beyond.

The situation underlines the importance of more concerted efforts, collaboration and cooperation among the Member States of SAARC in order to collectively emerge from the pandemic, he said.

Both Oli and Khan extended "warm greetings" to all the peoples and member states of the grouping.

On December 8, 1985 at the first SAARC Summit in Dhaka, the leaders of the seven South Asian states - the Maldives, India, Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka signed a charter to establish the bloc.

Afghanistan became the eight SAARC member in 2007.

In Kathmandu, the SAARC Secretariat noted that the primary objective of the grouping is to promote the welfare of the peoples and to improve their quality of life through accelerated social progress and economic development in the region.

As a forum of eight countries in South Asia that are bound by ties of history and culture, SAARC is a tangible manifestation of the determination of its member states to promote peace, stability, amity and progress in the region through strict adherence to the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, national independence, non-use of force and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States and peaceful settlement of disputes, it said.


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