SAARC has “survived” but not “triumphed” as had been envisaged, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said while lamenting the postponement of the eight-member grouping’s Islamabad summit. In his message on the 31st anniversary of South Asian Association of Regional Countries (SAARC) and 32nd SAARC Charter Day, Sharif felicitated the regional grouping’s member states and their citizens.
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“While SAARC has, albeit survived, it has not triumphed as had been envisaged, falling behind on the commitments and the promises that we had set out to achieve: progress and prosperity for the common good of our people,” he said.
Sharif said as its founding member, Pakistan stands steadfastly by the principles of the SAARC Charter.
“I take this opportunity to reaffirm Pakistan’s commitment to the objectives of SAARC and our journey together towards achieving our shared objectives under its umbrella,” he said.
Sharif, without naming any country for the postponement of the 19th SAARC Summit, said Pakistan had made all the preparations for the event.
Amid heightened tension with Pakistan over Uri terror attack in which 18 soldiers were killed, India had announced its decision of pulling out of the Summit in September, citing increased “cross-border” attacks.
Apart from India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan also pulled out of the summit, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding of the meet, resulting in its collapse.
“However, the postponement of the Summit has deprived our people, once more, of the prospects of development, prosperity and regional cooperation,” Sharif said, adding that Pakistan continues to believe in the viability of SAARC.
“We are convinced that only through adhering to the principles of sovereign equality and mutual respect among member states, would we be able to guide SAARC to our cherished goal of a prosperous and developed South Asian region,” Sharif said.
He also paid tribute to the leaders who played a role in creating the regional grouping.
“We celebrate, today, the spirit with which our leaders, entrusted by the people, worked towards the culmination of the SAARC Charter, and the subsequent establishment of SAARC. More than three decades ago, they committed to engage in a collaborative regional effort, geared towards delivering on the promise of a better life for their people,” he said.