Kathmandu, Nov 26: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday called for a dispute free south Asia and stressed on building "bonds of trust" during his address at the SAARC Summit here.
Sharif stressed a dispute-free south Asia where the member countries would fight poverty, disease and illiteracy. "We need bonds of trust so we can prosper," he said, also offering to host the next South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Pakistan.
The Pakistani prime minister said his country stands with the SAARC to promote regional cooperation, reported Xinhua. He was speaking at the two-day summit that kicked off on Wednesday.
"Pakistan attaches high importance to SAARC. More than a fifth of the population is between the ages of 15-24 but attracts only three percent of the world's foreign direct investment and is one of the lowest integration area. Therefore, we must reach out to create a win-win situation," he said.
He called for people to be made the centre of the bloc so that they can integrate with the economy and build trade surplus as well as promote cultural connectivity and build a common identity.
People-centred policies can also reduce poverty and empower vulnerable groups such as women, he added.
Sharif: People-centred policies can also reduce poverty
Sharif said all south Asian countries are vibrant democracies and called on them to share their experiences, best practices and institutional linkages for sustainable development.
"The underdevelopment of south Asia is closely linked to lack of affordable energy. We need to collectively focus on harnessing indigenous energy as well as trans-regional gas and fuel pipelines. Pakistan is actively pursuing this initiative to integrate south Asia, China. A soft visa process would facilitate this process," he noted.
Eight SAARC members will hold discussions for collective development at the two-day summit themed "Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity".
Established in 1985 in Bangladesh, the SAARC is a regional association of eight south Asian countries, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan joined SAARC as its eighth member state in 2007.