South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Secretary General Ahmed Saleem visited Pakistan and held meetings with Adviser to the Prime Minister on national security and foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz.
During his two-day stay in the federal capital, Saleem also attended a lunch hosted by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry. In his meeting with the Saarc secretary general, the adviser reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the principles and objectives of the Saarc Charter for the welfare of the people of this region, economic integration and regional prosperity.
Commenting on the importance of regional integration and the role of Saarc, Aziz felt that due to several impediments and challenges, Saarc has been unable to fulfill the vision that was laid out by its founding members.
He believed that the Saarc Secretariat could play an important role as a catalyst to bring all the member states together and ensure timely and effective implementation of the programme and activities that would benefit the region.
Agreeing with Aziz, Saleem emphasised the need to overcome the difficulties that the organisation faces and in this regard he stated that an exercise had been carried out by him to rationalise and improve the structure and working of Saarc. He added that the matter would be discussed by the member states at the Inter-Summit Council of Ministers meeting scheduled for February in Male.
He also commented on the useful role that observer states play within Saarc particularly with regard to the funding of its activities.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2014.