Pakistan ready to host SAARC summit in Islamabad: FM

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s willingness to host the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad at the earliest.

Qureshi was virtually addressing the meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers on the sidelines of 75th session of the UN General Assembly. He has called for a regional approach to meet the common challenges including COVID-19, food insecurity, locust invasion, and climate change.

The foreign minister hoped that the obstacles created in its way would be removed and SAARC would be enabled to function as an effective instrument of regional cooperation. He said Pakistan, being a founding member of SAARC, has always attached great importance to this platform and remains committed to the principles and objectives of the SAARC Charter.

Qureshi said Pakistan has always been supportive of the idea of upgrading the Observer Status to Dialogue partners of countries actively engaged with SAARC countries and that can play an important role in the development of the region, especially in the context of post-pandemic economic recovery.

The foreign minister said although Pakistan may have controlled the pandemic within its boundaries, a regional approach is needed to stop the spread the deadly virus and save lives and livelihoods in South Asia.

Qureshi stressed for peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes to achieve development, economic growth, poverty alleviation and social uplift of the masses.

The foreign minister said they must condemn and oppose any unilateral and illegal measures to change the status of disputed territories in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions. “Such unilateral measures run counter to our shared objective of creating a regional environment of amity and cooperation and these must be opposed resolutely,” he said.

He urged the SAARC Council’s members to take cognisance of the systematic human rights violations of the people suffering from long-running disputes and ensure their protection.

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