KATHMANDU, June 23: Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination of Pakistan Fehmida Mirza has said that the regional politics should not affect the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Mirza made the remark on Friday during her meeting with Nepal's Ambassador to Pakistan Sewa Lamsal in Islamabad, according to Pakistani media reports.
According to The Express Tribune, the duo agreed to make SAARC an effective regional forum, which has remained dormant since India and three other SAARC member states boycotted the 19th SAARC summit scheduled in Pakistan in November 2016 citing lack of conducive environment for holding the summit.
"The regional politics should not affect SAARC," the Pakistani minister told the ambassador.
The Pakistani minister's remark comes at a time when the SAARC process is in limbo due to ongoing India-Pakistan tensions.
The SAARC summit 2016 was finally canceled as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and the Maldives followed India’s decision to boycott the summit.
Pakistan has been seeking support from smaller South Asian states to host the regional SAARC Summit in Islamabad this year.
Ambassador invites Pakistani minister for South Asian Games
Meanwhile, Pakistani Minister Mirza vowed to deepen bilateral ties with all South Asian countries including Nepal during her meeting with the Nepali ambassador.
“We attach great importance to our relations with Nepal,” the minister was quoted by Express Tribune as saying.
While highlighting the potential of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Mirza said that it offers an opportunity for the region to open up and reap the economic benefits through cooperation and connectivity.
The duo agreed to enhance cooperation in trade, adventure tourism, religious tourism, sports, and women empowerment. Ambassador Lamshal stressed the need to further enhance the multilateral relations with Pakistan.
Lamsal expressed immense pleasure over the improving bilateral ties with Pakistan saying that her country is keen to strengthen relations with Pakistan in multinational areas. “After having political stability, the government is now focusing on the economy, we have to rise above regional politics and look forward to enhancing cooperation. Focusing on our commonalities, we can take our relations to a new height” the ambassador said.
Ambassador Lamshal extended an invitation to Minister Mirza for South Asian Games to be held in Kathmandu and Pokhara from December 1 to 10 this year.