ISLAMABAD, Dec 9 (APP):Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood on Monday said Pakistan was committed to the principles of Charter of South Asian Association of Regional Countries (SAARC) for the collective good of all regional countries.

Addressing at an even to mark the 35th SAARC Charter Day here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the foreign secretary said Pakistan hoped that the hiatus created in SAARC’s continuous progression would be removed, thus enabling the SAARC nations to forge ahead on the path of regional cooperation for development and to achieve their full potential.

“For us, in Pakistan, it remains a conviction that SAARC will go forward, as the march of history and the progress of mankind cannot be stalled,” he told the audience comprising diplomats and senior officials.

The foreign secretary said despite the progress made so far, South Asia remained the least integrated, and one of the most under-developed, regions of the world.

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“We remain beset by numerous challenges – including poverty, illiteracy, disease, climate change, state terrorism against people under illegal occupation, and long-standing unresolved disputes,” he said.

He stressed the imperative to change paradigm with shared desires of promoting peace, stability, amity and progress in the region.

“We must craft a new vision for SAARC that builds upon the experiences of the past, and on our collective strengths, to guide the SAARC process in the medium and long terms,” he said.

He said SAARC must become an effective instrument of integrated and resulted-oriented regional cooperation.

“We must summon the requisite political will, restore the Association’s vitality, and realize the region’s immense potential in myriad of sectors from agriculture to trade to tourism,” he added.

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The foreign secretary said 35 years ago, the region embarked upon an important and visionary venture by establishing the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the leaders with foresight recognized the common problems and aspirations.

He said the SAARC members decided to commit themselves to the objectives of accelerating economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region.

“They affirmed strict adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter and Non-alignment, particularly respect for cardinal principles such as sovereign equality, mutual benefit, and peaceful settlement of disputes,” he said.

He said the adoption of the SAARC Charter in 1985 ushered in a new era of cooperation among the Member States, representing one-fifth of humanity.