ISLAMABAD: The 35th session of SAARC Council of Ministers (COM) Meeting was held in the Maldives on Thursday where Pakistan’s delegation was led by Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs.
The COM was preceded by meetings of the SAARC Standing and Programming Committees.At the meeting SAARC Foreign Ministers took stock of SAARC activities over the past two years.
Among other issues, focus of the discussions was on streamlining and rationalizing the SAARC process based on the Study conducted by the SAARC Secretariat as well as the role, status and engagement of Observer states in SAARC program and activities.
In his statement, the Advisor stressed the need to make SAARC more effective, dynamic and focused on priority areas that affect the entire region.
For this, it was important to develop stronger economic linkages through South Asian Free Trade Agreement, SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services, regional connectivity and develop programs for the social uplift of the people.
These should include poverty alleviation, environment and climate change, food security and energy programs. Cooperation in the field of energy is pivotal to the economic development and integration of the region and it was necessary to push forward with programs in this sphere.
The Advisor also highlighted the importance of active participation by all SAARC Member States in its activities and the added benefit of involving Observer states as dialogue partners.
This would not only raise SAARC?s global profile but also enrich the region with diverse and varied experiences and best practices.