KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday said Pakistan attached great importance to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) and remained committed to its objectives.
In a speech during his visit to the Saarc Secretariat here to plant a tree, Abbasi said Pakistan had always strived to make Saarc a vibrant vehicle for regional cooperation based on the principle of sovereign equality. The Saarc had immense potential for strengthening the economies of the member countries and promoting collaboration in various areas of mutual significance. He emphasized that the organisation needed to work towards achieving economic, cultural and social growth of the region. He stressed connectivity among Saarc member states for the cause of a prosperous region.
He said Pakistan had advanced its belief that a secure and peaceful environment in South Asia was crucial for the advancement of regionís prosperity. He said as host of the next Saarc summit, Pakistan looked forward to convening the summit at an early date and assured that the country would play a positive role in strengthening regional cooperation.
Later, in a meeting with his Nepalese counterpart Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, both the leaders laid focus the on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Chinaís One Belt One Road (OBOR) project which was joined by Nepal in 2016. Abbasi said the CPEC was a significant part of the OBOR and resulted in materializing several development projects in the country including motorways, Gwadar airport, economic free zones and energy generation projects. He said the CPEC would ensure connectivity of regional countries with China and all Central Asian states.
On the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, Abbasi said the project was not confined to gas supply only but was a flagship venture which included road network, railway lines and laying of fibre optic. He said the parliament was an appropriate forum as democracy had been strengthened in Pakistan and was gaining roots in Nepal as well. He said the parliament in Pakistan was the second one in the countryís history that was going to complete its five-year term.
Both the leaders shared similarity of views on eradication of terrorism and extremism. Abbasi said Pakistan was not only a partner with countries fighting terrorism but a leader in waging war against this menace. Pakistan successfully eliminated terrorism whereas other countries failed to do so in Afghanistan. He called for enhancing trade between the two countries and the need to energize Pakistan-Nepal Business Council. He invited Nepalese investors to invest in Pakistanís diverse sectors.
Khadga Prasad Oli informed Abbasi that Nepalís elections were held in three tiers under the 2015 Constitution. Nepal had a fruitful relationship with Pakistan and expressed gratitude for providing assistance to victims of Nepalís massive 2015 earthquake. He lauded Pakistanís initiative of providing scholarships to 25 Nepalese students and requested to increase the number.
In another meeting with Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, Abbasi stressed the need to enhance economic relations and bilateral trade which stood at $5.78 million in 2016-17. He said Pakistan admired the resilience of Nepalese people who experienced a terrible earthquake and floods. Bidhya Devi lauded the economic progress made by Pakistan in recent years and said the exemplary development in the country was admirable.