Kathmandu: The Member States of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) observed the thirty-seventh Charter Day of SAARC on Wednesday.
At the first SAARC Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 1985, the Heads of State or Government had adopted the Charter of SAARC on December 8. Since then, every year December 8 is commemorated as the SAARC Charter Day in South Asia.
The primary objective of SAARC, as enshrined in the Charter, is to promote the welfare of the people and to improve their quality of life through accelerated social progress and economic development in the region.
On the occasion, SAARC leaders issued special messages expressing commitment to abide by the principles and vision of the Charter.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in his message said that the member states must show the political will to realize the potentials of SAARC. “Home to over one-fifth of humanity, South Asia is a region of immense potentials, common values and socio-cultural affinities,” said the PM. “In order to unlock these potentials, we must muster political will and drive the regional process with a forward-looking perspective.”
PM Deuba also called for convening the 19th Summit, which was scheduled to be held in November 2016 in Islamabad but which remained stalled mainly due to the differences between India and Pakistan.
“We must revitalize the SAARC process including through an early convening of the 19th Summit,” said Deuba in his message.
PM Deuba further said that Nepal is fully committed to the vision and objectives of SAARC Charter. “As the current Chair and the founding member of SAARC, Nepal is fully committed to the vision, principles and objectives of its Charter. We will continue to play a constructive role to enable the organization to deliver wider benefits for the peoples of the region.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed commitment to strengthen regional cooperation and integration. “India is committed to strengthening regional cooperation and integration through various initiatives for the development and progress of all the countries in the region,” said Modi in his message. “India will continue to share the fruits of its economic and technological progress with SAARC members for the welfare and larger good of the people of the region.”
Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan reiterated the commitment to SAARC Charter and said that Pakistan provided financial and medical assistance to countries in the region including Nepal. “Pakistan has remained committed to the objectives of the organization as enshrined in its Charter and has always played an active role in the SAARC processes and activities,” said Khan. “As per our commitment to regional cooperation, Pakistan has provided financial and medical assistance to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, under the SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund.”
The Pakistan PM called for adherence to the cardinal principles of sovereign equality and mutual respect as embodied in the SAARC Charter and expressed a hope that obstacles to holding the next summit will be removed soon. “We continue to hope that artificial obstacles created in the way of holding the next SAARC Summit will be removed soon and SAARC will be enabled to function as an effective instrument of regional cooperation, ” said Khan.