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The News on Sunday

Published Date: Aug 14, 2016

Pakistan to host SAARC finance ministers’ moot to discuss SAFTA

Pakistan will host two days SAARC Finance Minister Conference from August 25, 2016 for finding ways and means to accelerate process of regional cooperation for non starter South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).
But hopes for many major breakthroughs are quite bleak at a time when political tension between nuclear rivals Pakistan and India are on rife in the context of growing atrocities by Indian forces in Indian held Kashmir in recent weeks.
According to Finance Ministry’s statement issued on Saturday, the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting at the Finance Division to review the arrangements for the upcoming SAARC Finance Minster’s conference to be hosted in Islamabad on August 25th and 26th.
Officials of the ministries of finance and foreign affairs gave presentations to the participants of the meeting on the overall plan to conduct the conference in Islamabad in the last week of August. Details of the arrangements made for this conference were shared with the participants.
Finance Minister Dar expressed satisfaction on the arrangements made so far and directed that the relevant ministries and departments should ensure maximum coordination to make befitting arrangements for the conference.
The minister said that all the countries in the SAARC region have a lot of potential to develop together utilising each other’s potentials and energies. “The cooperation is necessary for promoting the welfare and improving the quality of life of the peoples of the region and the upcoming conference would be an important event in this regard,” Dar said.
The meeting was attended by senior officials of the ministry of finance, ministry of interior, ministry of information and broadcasting, ministry of foreign affairs, cabinet and aviation divisions.
Sources said on behalf of Pakistan, Dar offered his counterpart of SAARC member states for hosting their next meeting in Islamabad in August 2016 on the sidelines of ADB’s annual meeting held at Frankfurt, Germany in last May.
Pakistan had made renewed efforts for non starter SAARC to assume driving force for ensuring regional cooperation in this part of the world. On the sidelines of ADB’s annual meeting, SAARC ministers had dwelt upon establishing corridors and ensuring trade facilitation at borders within the region to promote trade and investments.
“Pakistan had floated innovative and out of box solutions to finance such mega projects with the idea that traditional way of resources could not meet huge financing requirements,” the statement said.
However, SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry high ups argued that they wanted to see actionable plan with mandate of private sector to ensure monitoring on declaration agreed upon in the upcoming 19th Summit.
The SAARC Chambers and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) had signed MoU to cooperate in area of research and development and tracking down implementation on declarations signed among the member states which is welcoming step but SAARC requires leadership at political level having capability to resolve their disputes and move forward towards establishing right kind of linkages for promoting trade and investment that could tackle poverty and ensure prosperity.