(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)
Pakistan hopes India will support Saarc Summit, says Pak diplomat
Pakistan is hopeful that India will attend the Saarc Summit to be held in Islamabad later this year as the two sides need to move beyond their differences.
WORLD Updated: Jun 12, 2017 23:40 IST
Pakistan hopes India will attend the Saarc Summit expected to be held in Islamabad later this year, a top Pakistani diplomat said on Monday, adding the two countries need to move beyond differences.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Shangani Cooperation Organisation (SCO) event in Beijing, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the deputy head of the Pakistani mission, said it is important for both countries to strengthen the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).
“We really hope that Saarc, which is our regional organisation to move beyond the differences…that India would be able to come to Pakistan for the summit because in the end we are neighbours,” Baloch said.
India pulled out of last year’s Saarch Summit in Pakistan after a string of terror attacks blamed on Pakistan-based militants, leading to a pullout by Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The summit was subsequently cancelled.
It’s still not clear whether the summit will be held at the end of this year either, given India’s position on Pakistan’s involvement in cross-border terror.
Baloch, however, indicated that Islamabad is working to holding the summit.
She played down speculation that the inclusion of India and Pakistan in the SCO would lead to disruptions in the Beijing-led security bloc’s agenda.
“It is an important organisation for Pakistan and it is an important organisation for India. This is not an organisation to settle disputes. This is an organisation to work for the region and for common challenges and work for common development,” she said.
Pakistan, she said, hoped the inclusion of the two countries will contribute to our “region’s development and more understanding between all parties in the SCO”.
Talking about possible cooperation within the SCO framework, Baloch said: “Of course, when you work together (in the same organisation), you are in the same organisation, you have opportunities to resolve many of the issues.
“With the increase of the membership with the inclusion of Pakistan and India, we have made this organisation more inclusive and we will be able to work together to fight common challenges.”
Speaking earlier, secretary general Rashid Alimov said the SCO’s convention on “countering extremism has become the collective response of the SCO member-states to the growing threat of this dangerous phenomenon for humanity”.
He added, “The convention is aimed at improving the mechanism for countering extremism in the SCO area (and) developing the provisions of the SCO Development Strategy until 2025.”