Published Date: Dec 7, 2016
Sartaj says Pakistan seeks peaceful environment in region
dviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Tuesday said that Pakistan’s policy of peaceful neighbourhood is aimed at promoting peace and development for the present and future generations of the region. The adviser told the participants of the 19th Annul Conference on Sustainable Development that the government is fully conscious of the imperative of peace and development for Pakistani 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 added. Referring to the postponement of SAARC Summit due to India’s refusal, which was scheduled to be held last month in Islamabad, Aziz said that by postponement of the SAARC Summit, the people of South Asia have been deprived of an important opportunity for cooperation in this vital area.
Recognising the importance of the environmental challenges facing South Asia, he said that Pakistan had proposed cooperation on climate change as an important agenda item for the SAARC Summit but it could not be held because of India’s refusal. He pointed out that at the regional level, the last meeting of Council of SAARC Foreign Ministers held in Pokhra, Nepal, in May 2016, had agreed to set up a coordinating group to learn from one another’s experience, both in converting the global goals into national goals and in formulating concrete implementation strategies.
He pointed out, "Investment in development is one of the smartest investments we can make in our collective future. Lack of development is starkly reflected in lack of education, lack of health facilities and less jobs, and also a sense of despair, where basic human dignity is violated which could lead to tensions and instability." According to him, many internal conflicts and crises in developing world could have been avoided if nations had truly invested in the lives of the people, and if the wealthiest nations on earth were better partners.
Aziz further said that the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are not meant only for developing countries but they also apply to the developed countries not only as providers of development assistance but also for creating space, through appropriate policies, to adopt more sustainable forms of consumption both to protect the environment and to allow sustainable development to take place.
In this context, he added that Pakistan’s policy to emphasise trade, rather than aid, as a more effective means of North South Cooperation is very timely. The adviser said when traditional forms of financing for development are increasingly becoming scarce and Official Development Assistance faces increased budgetary pressures, innovative investment policies can bridge the gap between what is available and what is needed to reach the SDGs, and a level playing field for trade among nations can become more important.
He stated that Pakistan’s quest for pursuing SDGs 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, he maintained.
He also called upon the participants to discuss the full implications of the developments in certain western countries, especially the growing importance of South-South cooperation for achieving these SDGs. "CPEC, as we are all aware, is an outstanding example of South-South cooperation," he said.
He further said that Pakistan is much better prepared for the 2030 Agenda than it was for the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] , adding the eight MDGs adopted in the year 2000, for the period 2000-2015 were never translated into national goals and there was no dedicated monitoring machinery to watch Pakistan’s progress towards these goals.
In the past 12 months, he added, Pakistan has adopted a number of important steps for giving national ownership to SDGs and for mainstreaming them into national development priorities. In this context, he stated that a unanimous resolution was approved by Parliament in February 2016, adopting the 2030 Agenda as Pakistan’s National Development Agenda.
He said that the government has also initiated actions in consultation with provincial governments to translate SDGs into country-specific goals and targets. Furthermore, he added that monitoring mechanisms have also been set up, both at provincial and federal level, to prepare annual reports on the progress achieved in implementing the SDGs.