Pakistan ready to host 19th SAARC Summit, says Foreign Secretary Janjua

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said Friday that Islamabad is ready to host the 19th SAARC Summit, two years after it was called off when India declined to participate following a deadly terror attack in the country.

Janjua addressed a ceremony organised by Ministry of Foreign Affairs to celebrate the 34th SAARC Charter Day in collaboration with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC Arbitration Council and SAARC Energy Center.Janjua said being the founding member, Pakistan stands steadfastly by the principles of the SAARC charter.

Janjua emphasised that only through adhering to the principles of sovereign equality and mutual respect among member states, the SAARC grouping can achieve the cherished goal of a prosperous and developed South Asian region.She pointed out that the SAARC countries over the years have focused on poverty alleviation. However, life of a large population remains far from satisfactory. “We have enormous responsibility to deliver on this front,” she said.

The Foreign Secretary said South Asia being home to 1.7 billion talented, energetic and educated human resource and abundantly blessed with natural resources must not be left behind.She also reiterated that “Pakistan stands ready to host the 19th SAARC Summit.” The 2016 SAARC Summit was to be held in November in Islamabad. But after a deadly terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir in September 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. Maldives and Sri Lanka are the seventh and eighth members of the grouping.Last month, Pakistan said it would invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the SAARC Summit. However, India said that unless and until Pakistan stops terrorist activities in the country, there will be no dialogue and participation in the SAARC.