The President of the Maldives handed over the chair of Saarc to Nepal’s PM Sushil Koirala .
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, President of Afghanistan, Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of Bhutan, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, President of the Maldives, Nawaj Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka addressed the 18th Saarc Summit that is being organized under the theme of “Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity”.
The heads of the states and governments of the Saarc regions, in their speeches, emphasized on better connectivity in the region, infrastructure development, fight against terrorism, corruption, climate change and poverty.
Likewise, they opined for joining hands together to ensure a better livelihood of the peoples in the region through a consortium efforts.
Inaugurating the inaugural session of the 18th SAARC Summit in the City Hall, Prime Minister Koirala said that the whole world is watching South Asia when the international environment was rapidly changing, and our societies and economies are becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent.
Stating that South Asia has strategic geography, rich demographic profile with growing middle class, young, dynamic and hardworking population, increasing democratization process, abundance of natural resources, rich biodiversity and economic dynamism with a boundless market, Prime Minister Koriala said the region has transformative potentials to gain global preeminence.
“Despite geographical proximity, our region is one of the least integrated,” he said.
The PM stressed for a quantum jump and deepening of economic linkages, through the full implementation of SAFTA and further liberalization of trade, including trade in services to move towards the goal of achieving South Asian Economic Union.
To reap the geographic dividend and to promote the seamless movement of our people, we require the effective implementation of SAARC process through the synergetic partnership among civic institutions, private sectors, and civil societies, he said. He said the South Asia would be able to realize the theme of the Kathmandu summit “Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity” in real sense.
Likewise, addressing the session Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that poverty alleviation was the region´s unfinished task. “We cannot claim to be the custodians of the world´s great civilizations and yet allow so many among us to go hungry and exist in dehumanizing level of want and deprivation,” he said.
Saying that the South Asia was blessed with abundant natural resources, he said the region needs to ensure that the bounty from these is used optimally and redistributed more equitably. “It is our human resource that is our greatest and most precious asset,” he added.
The Bhutanese Prime Minister stressed for opportunity for the young population and they need to be provided not only with better education and skills development but also with enabling policies to unlock their unlimited potential.
“Our poverty alleviation strategy must, therefore, be aimed at making optimal use of both- the abundant natural resources and the rich human resources we have in our region.”
Furthermore, Indian PM Narendra Modi said nowhere in the world are collective efforts more urgent than in South Asia; and, nowhere else is it so modest.
There is much to learn from each other; even more – to do together. That was the vision and aspiration that brought us together as SAARC 30 years ago. We have travelled a long distance together since then, the Indian PM argued.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaj Sharif underscored Pakistan’s attachment of high priority to SAARC adding that it epitomized aspirations of the peoples of the region for peace, progress and prosperity.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit here, the Pakistani PM said his country stands with the people in enhancing the cause of regional cooperation.
“The theme of the 18th SAARC Summit ‘Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity is most appropriate,” PM Sharif said adding it reflected out common desire and created a win-win scenario.
The Pakistani PM called on the SAARC member states to fight for resolving common problems as poverty rather than fighting against each other.
In pursuing the goals of SAARC, action plan is needed for the elimination of poverty, scientific development and dispute-free South Asia.
On the occasion, the Pakistani Prime Minister emphasized the important role of SAARC observers.
Likewise, President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa has pointed out the need for deeper integration for peace and prosperity in the region.
Pointing out the need to tap the abundant natural resources available in the region, the Sri Lanka President also emphasized the need to end the increasing disparity in terms of development in the SAARC member states.
“Key engine of development in SAARC is economic cooperation”, he said. He also called for bigger regional response to addressing the impact of climate change in the region.
Likewise, Afghan President Ghani said that deeper integration for peace and prosperity, our theme, is an imperative and threats to our daily routines and national security come from networks of violence without passports. He added that constraints and opportunities conditioning the life chances of our citizens are defined by the ability of leaders in government, business and civil society to shape the regional and global environment for collaboration and cooperation.
The test of leadership is, therefore, to change the rules of the game and the playing field among the nations from confrontation to cooperation, he argued.