Collective efforts needed to make SAARC a vibrant body: Ambassador Saleem


As a former Secretary-General of SAARC, he was delighted that the SAARC process was moving steadily in spite of mounting challenges and difficulties. 

ISLAMABAD, DEC 9 (DNA)-Ambassador of Maldives Ahmed Saleem has said SAARC was the manifestation of the collective will of our Member States to promote regional cooperation and integration in order to promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life.

He said as a former Secretary-General of SAARC, he was delighted that the SAARC process was moving steadily in spite of mounting challenges and difficulties.

“I am given to understand that this year alone, many important activities have taken place including five ministerial level meetings. That includes the SAARC Education Ministers’ Meeting in my country of the Maldives”.

Ambassador Salim expressed these words on the occasion of SAARC Charter Day function held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Monday.

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, was the chief guest while all ambassadors and high commissioners of SAARC countries attended the function.

He father said undoubtedly, despite many challenges, the importance of this organization, has in fact grown by every passing year. During the past 34 years, SAARC has made a difficult journey during which there has been economic growth social development and cultural advancement.

In spite of it, the overall development of SAARC and our region remain much below the levels of expectations and we have not been able to exploit the huge potential that remains unexploited. It is up to us alone to make the association more effective in order to keep it relevant to the present context.

He said he was hopeful that SAARC can still achieve its desired goals and objectives but only if all members hold same degree of commitment and display mutual respect towards each other and are determined to work together in a responsible atmosphere of friendship and cooperation.

As we mark another year since its establishment, we need to remind ourselves of the noble principles of the Association and redouble our efforts to strengthen our resolve and focus on how, as a region, we can improve the lives of our peoples through sustainable development.

In order to do that, what we need among ourselves now, more than anything else, is respect and confidence among ourselves and a serious effort to settle whatever differences we have among ourselves, for our own good and that of SAARC.

If political problems that have existed in the region for so long can be resolved amicably and peacefully, we could be the most prosperous in the world given the huge potential in the region, the ambassador added.

“While all these important activities are taking place in SAARC, we must hold our breath and wait to find out when the next Summit will take place. We all know that holding of SAARC Summit, which is the highest body of SAARC, provides renewed impetus to the SAARC process”.

Last Summit was held in Nepal in November 2014, five years ago. Sadly, this has been the longest period SAARC has gone without a Summit.

The 19th Summit was to be held here in Islamabad in November 2016, but was unfortunately, postponed. It is hoped consensus among the Member States will be evolved soon to hold the Summit as early as possible.

He said Maldives, which is one of the founding members of SAARC, is fully committed to the SAARC process since the very beginning.

Our resolve to regional cooperation remains undeterred in spite of some setbacks that we continue to face every now then.

“SAARC is the best thing to have happened in this region. I sincerely believe SAARC is the only vehicle that can promote not only economic cooperation but also maintain peace and harmony in the region”.

The ambassador appreciated the Ministry of Foreign affairs for having given him this opportunity to speak at this important function in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of SAARC. =DNA