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Daily Times

Published Date: Dec 7, 2016

India’s SAARC boycott deprives entire South Asian region: Sartaj Aziz

The Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said that with the postponement of the SAARC Summit, the people of South Asia have been deprived of an important opportunity for cooperation. He expressed these views here on Tuesday at the annual Sustainable Development Conference.
The Adviser Sartaj Aziz said that the government of Pakistan is fully conscious of the imperative of peace and development for people and the people of the region. "Our policy of peaceful neighbourhood is intended precisely to promote that goal. I think this is an objective that should bring us together for the benefit of our present and future generations," he said.
He said that the last meeting of Council of SAARC Foreign Ministers held in Nepal in May 2016 had agreed to set up a coordinating group to learn from each others’ experience, both in converting the global goals into national goals and in formulating concrete implementation strategies. Recognising the importance of the environmental challenges facing South Asia, Pakistan had proposed cooperation on climate change as an important agenda item for the SAARC Summit in Islamabad.
Aziz said that the Annual Conferences on Sustainable Development have become important events for the development planners and policy makers in Pakistan, but this year’s conference has special significance. This conference coincides with the start of a new journey of sustainable development embarked upon in September 2015, by adopting Agenda 2030.
He said that this Conference can and should discuss the full implications of these developments, especially the growing importance of South-South cooperation for achieving these Sustainable Development Goals. CPEC, as we are all aware, is an outstanding example of South-South cooperation.
He said that Pakistan’s quest for pursuing SDG’s has been greatly facilitated by the exercise completed by the Planning Commission in August 2014 on ‘Vision 2025’. ‘The 7 pillars and 25 goals spelled out in Vision 2025’ are fully in line with the 17 goals and 169 targets laid down in the SDGs. "This agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom," he said.
Aziz said that Pakistan’s policy to emphasise trade, rather than aid, as a more effective means of North South Cooperation is very timely. "While traditional forms of financing for development are becoming increasingly scarce and Official Development Assistance (ODA) face increased budgetary pressures, innovative investment policies to bridge the gap between what is available and what we need to reach the SDGs and a level playing field for trade among nations can become more important," Aziz concluded.