SAARC SUMMIT 2004
Jamali content over 12th Saarc summit
states pledge cooperation against terror
Approve Plan of Action on
Poverty Alleviation; term investment, human resources critical areas for
future development of South Asia; condemn terrorists’ violence
By Amer Malik
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad
Declaration jointly issued by member states on Tuesday at the conclusion
of the 12th Saarc summit envisaged enhanced cooperation in all fields
ranging from economic affairs to combating terrorism for promoting peace,
stability, amity and progress in the South Asian region.
The leaders of the Saarc
member states comprising Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives,
Nepal and Sri Lanka, guided by the vision of a peaceful and prosperous
South Asia, reaffirmed commitment to the principles, provisions and
objectives of the Saarc Charter featuring cooperation in the fields of
economic affairs, poverty alleviation, science and technology, social,
cultural and environmental cooperation, combating terrorism, establishment
of Saarc Award, exchange of information and communications, continuing
Saarc Integrated Programme of Action, enhancing sub-regional,
inter-regional and political cooperation and ensuring security of small
states in the region.
The heads of all seven
member states of Saarc, conscious of the growing interdependence within
and amongst nations and regions in an increasingly globalised world,
expressed their deep-rooted desire of promoting peace, stability, amity
and progress in the region through strict adherence to the principles of
the United Nations Charter and Non-Alignment, particularly respect for the
principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, national
independence, non-use of force and non-interference in the internal
affairs of the states and peaceful settlement of all disputes amongst the
countries of the South Asian region. "We reaffirm the centrality of
Saarc for promoting regional cooperation and emphasising the need to
enhance its efficacy," vowed the heads of the Saarc member states.
In regional cooperation in
the economic affairs, the member states expressed satisfaction over the
progress made in South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (Sapta), and
declared signing of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (Safta) as a major
milestone. They stressed the need to broaden economic cooperation and to
ensure equitable distribution of benefits of trade as well as cater to the
special needs of the small and LDC (Least Developed Countries) member
states by providing them special and differential treatment.
They reiterated the
commitment, made at the 11th Saarc Summit at Kathmandu in January 2002,
for the creation of a South Asian Economic Union. It resolved to undertake
a study on creating South Asian Energy Cooperation, including the concept
of an Energy Ring by the Working Group on Energy.
They laid emphasis on
strengthening transportation, transit and communication links across the
region for accelerated and balanced economic growth. The prospects for
setting up of a South Asian Development Bank were also considered and
proposed to examine its modalities by the Saarc Finance through the
Council of Ministers. Priority attention should also be given to the need
for harmonisation of standards, simplification of custom procedures, as
well as cooperation among the central banks, they observed.
They emphasised that there
was a need for increasing cooperation to jointly promote tourism within
South Asia as well as to promote South Asia as tourism destination inter
alia by improved air links. The year 2005 is designated as "South
Asia Tourism Year".
On poverty alleviation
front, the member states, terming poverty alleviation as the greatest
challenge facing the peoples of South Asia, declared alleviation of
poverty as the overarching goal of Saarc activities. They marked as
priority the provision of basic needs, promotion of literacy, and better
healthcare to the people of South Asia. "It is important to undertake
effective and sustained poverty reduction programmes through pre-poor
growth strategies and other policy interventions with specific sectoral
targets," they underlined.
The member states
unanimously approved the Plan of Action on Poverty Alleviation, prepared
by the meeting of Finance and Planning Ministers in Islamabad in 2002.
Expressing satisfaction over the reconstituted Independent South Asian
Commission for Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA), they underscored the need to
devise an effective strategy to implement suggestions made in ISACPA
Report "Our Future Our Responsibility".
They stressed that ISACPA
should prepare and submit to the next Saarc Summit a comprehensive and
realistic blueprint setting our "Saarc Development Goals" for
the next five years in the areas of poverty alleviation, education, health
and environment giving due regard, among others, to the suggestions made
in its report. "The Saarc Secretariat should periodically update and
submit Regional Poverty Profiles," emphasised the member states.
They observed that Saarc
should continue to collaborate with international organisations and UN
agencies in the field of poverty alleviation. They recommended the
establishment of a Regional Food Bank for which a concept paper should be
prepared. "Arrangements for Saarc Food Security Reserves should be
made more effective," they added.
They termed the investment
and human resources as critical areas for future development of South
Asia. "It is, therefore, essential to establish a network of centres
of higher learning, training and Skill Development Institutes (SDIs)
across South Asia," they added.
To combat terrorism, the
member states condemned terrorists’ violence in all its forms and
manifestations, and noted that people of South Asia continue to face a
serious threat from terrorism. "We are convinced that terrorism, in
all its forms and manifestations, is a challenge to all states and to all
of humanity, and cannot be justified on any ground, whatsoever," they
They said terrorism violated
the fundamental values of the United Nations and the Saarc Charter and
constituted one of the most serious threats to international peace and
security. "We agree to fully implement the relevant international
conventions to which we are parties," they added.
They reaffirmed the
commitment to Saarc Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism, which
among others, recognised the seriousness of the problem of terrorism as it
affected the security, stability and development of the region.
They welcomed the signing of
the Additional Protocol to the Saarc Regional Convention on Combating
Terrorism to deal effectively with terrorism in all forms and
manifestations in South Asia.
For the exchange of
information and communications, the member states recognised the vital
role that information and media could play in the promotion of peace,
progress and harmony in South Asia. In this context, they welcomed the
initiatives for introducing regular "Saarc Roundup" and "Saarc
News" programmes for telecast and broadcast on national TV and radio
channels, respectively in member countries. "We agree to the
establishment of a Saarc Information Centre in Kathmandu," they
In the field of science and
technology, the member states emphasised upon strengthening of scientific
and technological cooperation across the region to accelerate the pace of
economic and social development. "Sharing of scientific and
technological expertise, joint research and development and industrial
application of higher technology should be encouraged and
facilitated," they emphasised.
In social sector, the member
states hailed the signing of the Saarc Social Charter as a historic
development, which would have a far-reaching impact on the lives of
millions of South Asians. "Issues covered under the charter such as
poverty alleviation, population stabilisation, empowerment of women, youth
mobilisation, human resource development, promotion of health and
nutrition and protection of children are considered as key to the welfare
and well-being of all South Asians."
They observed that all
member states should move towards an early ratification of the two
Conventions on Child Welfare and Trafficking in Women and Children for
Prostitution. "To enable women to contribute to the socio-economic
development, there is a need for Saarc to encourage women entrepreneurs in
the region," they added.
Declaring year 2004 as the
"Saarc Awareness Year", they termed as priorities the provision
of easy and affordable healthcare, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS,
Tuberculosis and other serious communicable diseases.
As agreed by the Saarc
Health Ministers’ Conference, held recently in New Delhi, they stressed
that a Saarc Health Surveillance Centre and a Rapid Deployment Health
Response System should be set up to deal with the emerging and re-emerging
disease as well as to establish a network among various institutions
dealing with malaria and other vector borne diseases in the member states.
"The important initiative taken by Maldives in hosting the Emergency
Meeting of the Saarc Health Ministers on SARS epidemic in Male on 29 April
2003 was a welcome development. Also, documentation of traditional
knowledge to safeguard Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) in medicine
needs attention," they maintained.
They said the importance of
cooperation in medical expertise and pharmaceuticals as well as in the
field of traditional medicine required elaboration of a Saarc Plan of
Action that should be developed in the shortest possible time.
In the fields of culture and
environment, the member states said they took pride in the rich cultural
mosaic of the peoples of South Asia, and underlined the need for
preservation of traditional skills and crafts and promotion of cultural
exchanges between nations. "We welcome the establishment of a Saarc
Cultural Centre in Kandy, which will serve as a symbol of South Asian
shared cultural heritage."
They said it was important
to undertake and reinforce regional cooperation in the conservation of
water resources, environment, pollution control and prevention as well as
their preparedness to deal with natural calamities. "We welcome the
early establishment of the Coastal Zone Management Centre in the
Maldives," they observed. Stressing importance of the early and
effective implementation of the Saarc Environment Plan of Action, they
stressed early submission of the State of the Environment reports to
expedite the preparation of Saarc State of Environment report and the
commissioning of the work on drafting a Regional Environment Treaty.
The member states welcomed
the institution of the Saarc Award on the basis of a concept paper drawn
up by the government of Nepal, and decided to present the Award during the
summits in future. "The award will honour and encourage outstanding
individuals and organisations within the region in the fields of peace,
development and poverty alleviation, and in other areas of regional
cooperation," they added.
The member states also
stressed the need to allocate more resources to Saarc Integrated Programme
of Action (SIPA) for achieving further progress in regional cooperation.
On inter-regional and
sub-regional cooperation, the member states encouraged the development of
specific projects relevant to the individual needs of three or more member
states under the provisions of Articles VII and X of the Saarc Charter.
"They expressed determination to develop mutually beneficial links
between Saarc and other regional and international organisations, bodies
and entities, and agreed to establish dialogue partnership with other
regional bodies and with states outside the region, interested in Saarc
For the security of small
states, the member states were mindful of their security concerns that
arise, inter alia, from their particular vulnerabilities, which should be
firmly addressed by scrupulous adherence to the UN Charter, rules of
international law and strict adherence to the universally accepted
principles and norms related to sovereign rights and territorial integrity
of all states.
Jamali for setting aside
By our correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Terming the 12th
Saarc summit a complete success, Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali on
Tuesday said that all political irritants should be set aside and a
positive approach be adopted if the member states wanted to regain
progress and do something for their people.
irritants whatever they were in the last few years, they need to be set
aside if Saarc has to progress as a region not as individuals. Ours will
be a positive approach," said the prime minister at the post-summit
press conference here. "I am sure and confident that we will make
Jamali said both Pakistan
and India have made up their minds to go ahead in a positive way, as both
have a fair idea as to where they are going. Only time will tell how far
we have come forward, he added.
He said all the seven member
countries have unanimously agreed and inked the additional protocol on
terrorism, and added he would help join efforts to combat terrorism in all
its manifestations. The prime minister recalled that a number of economic
and social issues were discussed within the framework of Saarc. He said a
mechanism has been evolved and the standing committees reactivated for
making the forum an effective tool for resolving problems confronted by
the people of the South Asia.
Jamali was of the view that
all the member states adopted a positive approach and they were now
looking forward to yield better results in due course of time. On the
poverty alleviation programme, the prime minister said Pakistan would not
lag behind and would make a decent and proper contribution towards this
Jamali said in his capacity
as Chairman Saarc he would like to visit all the countries, and if an
invitation was extended he would visit India also. On the issue of
regional gas pipeline, the prime minister said he discussed the matter
with Prime Minister Vajpayee for reactivating the project, as this would
benefit India more than Pakistan. The ball is now in India’s court, he
Replying to a question about
Mishra-ISI chief meeting, he said every individual has the right to work
for national interest and added "our own national interest comes
first". He, however, denied any external pressure for holding such
Wishing his neighbours well,
the prime minister said if someone has been working, or talking or
deliberating, there is nothing wrong with it. When his attention was drawn
towards the Indian proposal of one currency, he said it is "not
viable for both of us."
About jointly celebrating
the 150th anniversary of 1857 along with India and Bangladesh, he said,
"It is a food for thought ... we will consider it, there are
different connotations for it in India and here, we will try to study and
see if it can be worked out."
In his opening statement,
the prime minister said the Islamabad summit constitutes a turning point
in endeavour of the South Asian states to promote peace and prosperity for
the people. He said landmark decisions have been taken and new thoughts
and new contents have been added to broaden and deepen the scope of
multi-dimensional cooperation in South Asia.
Considering the fact that
the Saarc process was repeatedly interrupted, Jamali said whatever
"success achieved has been remarkable". He attributed the Saarc
success to the growing realisation "that in the increasingly
inter-dependent world, the South Asian nations have no option but to take
up the challenges of globalisation by bringing back the economic
complementarities that exist among and between the regions."
The prime minister said
there was a realisation to take a holistic approach that encompassed the
entire spectrum of inter-state relations in South Asia. He said the
political disputes could not be divorced from economics but added that
imperatives of geo-economics could also not be ignored.
"The creation of
climate of peace and stability and resolution of differences and disputes
and simultaneous building of economic synergies could transform the daily
lives of people," he added. "I have a distinct sense that we
have been able at this summit to move across the board in all
fields," he added.
In political sphere, he
said, the conference strongly reaffirmed the commitment of South Asian
states to the objectives and principles of Saarc charter. The leaders, he
said, also expressed desire to promote peace, stability, amity and
progress in the region through strict adherence to the principles of UN
charter and NAM. This particularly included the respect for the principles
of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, national independence,
non-use of force and non-interference in the internal affairs of the
state, and peaceful settlement of disputes, he added.
"The leaders envisioned
South Asia to be a peaceful and stable region where each nation is at
peace with itself and its neighbours and where conflicts, differences and
disputes are addressed through peaceful means and dialogue," he
Jamali said the leaders
reaffirmed their pledge to promote good neighbourly relations and
recognise the importance of informal political consultations and promoting
mutual understanding and reinforcing confidence building process among
In the economic field,
Jamali said, the leaders affirmed determination to create an inclusive,
just and equitable partnership for peace, development and prosperity. He
said in this regard the leaders noted with satisfaction the progress made
on Sapta and reviewed and signed the framework agreement on Safta as a
"There was an agreement
to make this momentum and move towards further broadening of economic
cooperation and to ensure equitable benefits of trade and cater to the
special needs of small and LDC (Least Developed Countries) member states,
providing them special and differential treatment," he added.
Prime Minister Jamali said
the leaders have also agreed that a study on creating a South Asian energy
cooperation, including the concept of an energy ring, should be undertaken
by the Saarc’s Working Group on Energy.
He said for accelerated and
balanced economic growth it has been deemed essential to strengthen
transportation, transit and communication links across the region.
"We also agreed on giving priority attention to the need for
harmonisation of standards, simplification of custom procedures, as well
as cooperation among the central banks," he said.
He said the leaders were of
the view that public and private sector cooperation, particularly joint
ventures hold great promise. In this regard they underscored the
importance of moving towards project cooperation under Saarc and the need
to examine the idea of setting up of a South Asian Development Bank by the
In the social sphere, the
signing of the Saarc Social Charter is a historic development and will
have a far-reaching impact on the lives of millions of South Asians.
Similarly he said progress has also been made in the constitution of Saarc
Autonomous Advocacy Group of Prominent Women Personalities (SAWAG).
Jamali said, in this regard,
the need to encourage women entrepreneurs in the region was also
underscored by the leaders, which would enable women to contribute to the
socio-economic development of the region.
The cooperation in
politico-economic and socio-cultural spheres would surely contribute to
the elimination of poverty, which remains the greatest challenge facing
the people of South Asia and an overarching goal of all Saarc activities.
Prime Minister Jamali said
the 12th Saarc summit would be long remembered for its epochal
achievements. "The decisions taken and the agreements reached at the
summit would not have been possible without the political will and
determination of all the leaders to push the Saarc process forward."
Finalisation of these
various instruments is only a first step, he said. Their implementation in
letter and spirit would require a redoubling of efforts with a view to
sustaining and building on the existing momentum and statesmen-like spirit
of compromise and accommodation. Pakistan assumes the Saarc chair with the
determination to make this organisation and the regional cooperation more
meaningful, sustainable and substantive.
Saarc summit to spur Pak
By Ibrahim Khan
ISLAMABAD: The South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) 12th summit, which concluded
here on Tuesday after adopting a joint declaration, was likely to spur
Pakistan’s economy as it focussed attention on peace, economic
development, trade and alleviation of poverty, analysts said.
"The summit is likely
to provide the much-needed encouragement and patronage to promote trade in
the region," Riaz Ahmed Tata, President of the Federation of Pakistan
Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), told The News.
He said the seven-nation
association of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and
Sri Lanka, accommodating one-fifth of the world population, provided a
very big market to goods manufactured in the region.
"Why should not we
promote the regionally-manufactured goods and help our own economy in the
best interest of our poor people? Tata, the head of the apex-trade body of
Pakistan, tossed a question while discussing the outcome of the summit.
Tata’s comments followed
the adoption by the 12th summit’s declaration on the conclusion of the
three-day summit, which started on Sunday. Dealing with the chapter on
Regional Economic Cooperation, the declaration said: "The signing of
the framework agreement on Safta is a major milestone. It is important to
maintain this momentum and move towards further broadening of economic
cooperation and to ensure equitable distribution of benefits of trade and
cater to the special needs of the small and LDC member states by providing
them special and differential treatment.
"We reiterate our
commitment made at the 11th Saarc summit at Kathmandu in January 2002 for
the creation of a South Asian Economic Union. In this context, we
underline that creation of a suitable political and economic environment
would be conducive to the realization of this objective."
The declaration stated:
"For accelerated and balanced economic growth it is essential to
strengthen transportation, transit and communication links across the
region. "Public and private sector cooperation, particularly joint
ventures holds great promise. It is important to move towards project
cooperation under Saarc. Prospects for setting up of a South Asian
Development Bank should be examined by the Saarc finance through the
Council of Ministers."
While referring to regional
cooperation of the European Union, ASEAN, NAFTA and APEC, Tata said the
Saarc declaration had mentioned the regional cooperation and private
sector cooperation. The highly developed countries to protect and promote
their products and goods through regional trade had formed all these
"We should strengthen
the Saarc and translate its aims and objects into a reality to improve the
quality of life of our own people, one of the poorest in the world,"
he said and added: "The Saarc’s success lies in the regional trade
and promotion of education and health care."
He, however, said the
government should include the private sector in interaction and regional
trade policy finalisation. An analyst of stocks said the share prices had
risen gradually during the last few days because of a cautious approach of
foreign and local investors and wait-and-see attitude of financial
On Tuesday, the KSE-100
index rose 14.21 points to 4,514.84 on a turnover of 248 million shares
amid 150 gainers and 167 losers, compared with a rise of 26.70 points to
4,500.63 amid 172 gainers and 138 losers on Monday.
The analyst attributed the
Tuesday’s rise to the outcome of the summit and its declaration dealing
with efforts to promote peace and good relations amongst the Saarc
members, regional trade and economic development.
The meetings of President
Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee also
helped in restoration of confidence among the investors at the Karachi
bourse, the analyst added.
development has been appreciated by the Asian Development Bank 10 days
ago. The bank is of the view that most of the economic indicators showed
that the economy was healthy, growing faster and its fundamentals moving
in the right direction.
The overall picture of the
economy, which emerges from the ADB report, is that a massive effort is
still needed to enhance investment and reduce unemployment and poverty.
Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz has recently showered accolades on the
performance of the economy and said the economy was strong. "We
expect to cross the overall GDP growth target of 5.3 during the current
(2003/04 July-June) fiscal year," he said.
While releasing the details
of the Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) during July-October, he said it
showed 13.97 per cent growth during this period, as against 2.58 per cent
in the corresponding period of the last fiscal year.
One analyst on Pakistan’s
economy said the economic gains were likely to improve further because of
bilateral and multi-lateral trade opportunities in the Saarc region. The
Saarc foreign ministers, despite some differences, have also finalised
recommendations at a symposium organised by Saarc Chamber of Commerce and
Industry for Safta.
JKLF seeks OIC role on
By our correspondents
ISLAMABAD: Jammu and Kashmir
Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Amanullah Khan on Tuesday said it was
shocking to learn that Pakistan did not mention the Kashmir issue for the
first time in an international event like the Saarc summit.
In an interview with The
News, he said he was happy over resumption of talks between Pakistan and
India. "I fear that the talks are aimed at division of Kashmir and
for this purpose the Line of Control would be converted into a permanent
border," he added.
Musharraf must have mentioned Kashmir, Prime Minister Vajpayee may not
have talked about it openly because of the ‘negative hawks’ in India.
I don’t think we have any reason to be very optimistic," he said.
To a question on his formula
for resolution of the Kashmir issue, Amanullah said: "The simplest
formula to resolve the Kashmir issue, without any harm to either India or
Pakistan’s ideology, would be to reunite the divided Kashmir and give it
independence under the supervision of an international body," he
He said since India was
allergic to the UN’s role, the unification of Kashmir could take place
under the Organisation of Islamic Conference, European Union, P-5
countries, Germany or Japan.
He added Kashmir should be
given an independent status with a condition that it should be democratic,
non-communal, federal and at the top of it, it must have friendly
relations with India and Pakistan.
He said after 15 years of
providing Kashmir an independent status, there should be a referendum in
Kashmir to ascertain whether the Kashmiris wanted to continue their
independent status, join either India or Pakistan or opt for another
Saarc can play role like
Asean, EU: Chandrika
By Awais Saleem
ISLAMABAD: Sri Lankan
President Chandrika Kumaratunga has said that Saarc could play a more
vibrant role in the region if the political differences of two major
players-India and Pakistan-are resolved without further delay.
In an interview to The News
panel comprising Salim Bokhari, Siddiq Asghar, Awais Saleem and Naveed
Akram at Punjab House here Tuesday, the distinguished guest spoke on a
number of topics and expressed her viewpoint on them.
Saarc, she said, had the
capacity to play a more proactive role like Asean and EU provided the
disputed issues between both the countries (India and Pakistan) were
resolved. "Amongst all the regional organizations, we share the most
closest cultural and traditional bonds," she pointed out.
While pinning her hopes on
this factor to take Saarc on the course of progress and prosperity in
future, she said that all kinds of regional differences had to settle down
first and emphasized that the present summit had made a good beginning
towards this goal.
No tension between the two
major countries, India and Pakistan, of South Asia was also a very good
thing to see during this summit, she said while appreciating the recent
goodwill gestures taken by the respective countries.
Replying to a question on
whether Saarc was dominated by India and Pakistan that resulted in the
cause of other smaller countries being sidelined, she said the problems
between them had certainly been a major factor in their dominance of the
regional organization since its inception.
She agreed that the interest
of smaller countries in Saarc could not be taken up properly because of
the tension and said nothing was taken seriously in the region other than
the India-Pakistan conflict over the years.
They should have been
working purposefully on the social charter and the agenda of poverty
alleviation, she said while referring to the report on poverty compiled by
a Saarc committee. This would now be translated to the concerned for
developing a plan of action accordingly, she revealed.
The president disagreed that
either India or Pakistan wished to ignore the issues of their smaller
counter-parts in the region and emphasized that both the countries were
just severely handicapped because of their political differences.
When the focus would be on
the issues pertaining to South Asia and both the bigger players (India and
Pakistan) start giving attention to them, the problems would be resolved.
There was no intentional effort on part of both the countries to
jeopardize the regional organization, she argued.
When asked about her role in
bringing India and Pakistan closer during the last Saarc summit in
Kathmandu, she said she had also done this in Colombo, but it was not a
structured mediation role as such.
"I don’t think that a
mediation or a facilitator is required by either of the two parties,"
she said while recalling India had clearly stated that it would like to
resolve its differences with Pakistan on bilateral basis. "I would
also not like to play a role unless it is required," she said
"Whatever I had done
was just as a friend of both the countries," she said while adding
that she would continue to playing her part for the improvement in
Indo-Pak relations whenever possible.
She said she was taking an
excellent impression from the 12th Saarc summit back home and it had
perhaps been the most productive conference in the history of the
"We have been able to
sign the free trade agreement besides the social charter," she
elaborated while adding that this was due for a long time. These, she
said, were the important steps that the heads of state of Saarc had
managed to translate into actions during the summit. She sounded very
positive about these measures and the general atmosphere of friendship for
the future of the region.
On a question about SAFTA
(free trade) agreement’s benefit to smaller countries in wake of the WTO
around the corner, she said that both were different prepositions. SAFTA,
she said, had several clauses to protect the rights of smaller and less
"There is considerable
concern amongst ourselves on this subject," she said while terming
the SAFTA agreement as good for the future of these countries. An effort,
she said, had been made to extract the benefits of free trade while
protecting the rights of smaller countries in the region as well.
The preposition of WTO, like
all other issues, had to be decided collectively by the Saarc countries,
she said while giving a reference to her speech on the inaugural session
of the summit. "If we can have a common stand, it would be very
good," she said adding that issues have to be discussed one to one
basis in order to develop consensus.
"Sometimes, we may not
come to a conclusion and agree to disagree," she said while stressing
the need for discussing everything else.
When asked what Sri Lanka
was doing to counter WTO challenges, she said, "we had a clear stand
on it during my first government but then, there was a break because of
change of government two years ago." The present Sri Lankan
government, she said, was in the process of discussing and deciding on the
appropriate strategy with reference to WTO.
Previously, there was an ad
hoc arrangement and discussions used to take place once a year on certain
forums. Her government would like to change this policy, she declared.
Giving her views on the
political crisis in Sri Lanka and the divide in two major political
parties, she said that she was trying quite hard and wished to resolve it.
"There are good chances that these political differences in Sri Lanka
would be sorted out," she said adding that there were other political
options of doing so if it did not work out in due course of time.
Talking about Sri Lankan
ethnic problems particularly the Tamil rebels (LTTE) issue, she said they
had managed to reduce it considerably as compared to previous years. The
Kashmir issue has persisted for 56 years without any solution while the
Palestine issue has also taken a long time, she said while hoping that it
would not take that long to settle internal disputes in Sri Lanka.
The president termed
bilateral relations of her country with Pakistan as excellent and said the
both countries shared very good relationship. "Pakistan has extended
great cooperation to us in many areas like defence besides culture
exchanges etc," she said adding that the relationships between both
the governments had remained cordial over the years.
She said she had last paid a
state visit to Pakistan in 1996 while President Musharraf visited Sri
Lanka last year. "I have, during the summit, also extended an
invitation to Prime Minister Jamali to visit Sri Lanka," she
When asked her plans for the
next visit to Pakistan after coming to attend the 12th Saarc summit this
time round, she said that the invitation from Pakistani government was
always there and Prime Minister Jamali had reiterated it during the
concluding session. However, this had to be planned in light of the
commitments and busy schedules of the heads from both the countries, she
vice premier Advani says he is satisfied with Saarc summit
SAARC summit is landmark
for peace in region: Jamali
Hosting the summit was an honor for the government and people of Pakistan, Jamali said. The SAARC summit has proved a milestone for peace in the region. If this road map implements it will initiate an era of development and multi-dimensional cooperation in South Asia.
Jamali said politics couldn’t be separated from economics. Lives of the people could be transformed with peace, stability and settlement of disputes, he said.
He said a mechanism has been chalked out to implement the decisions taken in the summit. The dormant committees will be resuscitated and different groups will give their proposals soon.
Talking on the Indo-Pak relations he expressed hope that the bilateral relation will progress in right direction.
SAARC summit closes with
a positive note
This summit marks a watershed in enhancing South Asian regional cooperation, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia declared in her closing address at Islamabad's Jinnah Convention Center.
Pakistan's prime minister, Zafarullah Jamali, declared the 12th South
Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit closed and
expressed that the agreement on SAFTA is a big achievement.
summit’s concluding session begins in Islamabad
Musharraf, Vajpayee agree
to work for peace
Hold an hour-long
meeting; Sinha says Indo-Pak meetings to improve momentum of talks; FO
optimistic about composite dialogue; details of meeting kept secret;
foreign secretaries exchange views
By Mayed Ali and Ansar
ISLAMABAD: President General
Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee held an
hour-long meeting on the sidelines of the Saarc summit here on Monday.
The meeting took place after
a gap of two and a half years. Last time the two leaders had met in Agra
in 2001. Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha, addressing a press
conference here, said Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf have
welcomed steps towards normalisation of relations between the two
countries, and expressed the hope the process will continue.
He said India is interested
in the furtherance of the peace process initiated by Prime Minister
Vajpayee on April 18, and current meetings between the leaderships of the
two countries will surely improve the momentum of bilateral talks. Sinha
insisted it was a courtesy call.
"We are interested in
the success of a ‘certain process’, and if you are interested in the
success of the same process, you have to act responsibly." He later
elaborated "certain process" as peace endeavours between the two
Sinha said the Saarc summit
itself was a testimony to the fact that the peace-initiatives by India and
Pakistan had started materialising, making a positive headway. "The
fact that prime minister of India came to Islamabad for attending the
Saarc summit and met Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali and
President Pervez Musharraf, I met my counterpart and foreign secretaries
met each other is a progress in the peace process. Please look at it in
this way," he said.
Sinha set aside a query
whether the possibilities of confidence building measures (CBMs) had been
exhausted. "Possibilities of CBMs have not been exhausted yet."
When asked to furnish
details about the meeting between National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra
and Director General Inter Services Intelligence Lt General Ahsan, Sinha
said he did not think it was necessary. In the same vein, the Indian
foreign minister said at this stage, if anyone said more than he had
already revealed to the media would not be doing any service to the cause.
In response to a question on
the statements of Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad vis-a-vis
Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting, Sinha replied whatever has been said was
speculation, and he would not like to speculate. He was of the view that
such speculations would not do any justice to the cause of the peace
process. He believed both the sides should avoid all kinds of speculations
at this juncture.
Sinha said, "As I
mentioned yesterday (Sunday), India had requested a courtesy call by Prime
Minister AB Vajpayee on President Pervez Musharraf today, the meeting
materialised before the scheduled retreat."
He said the meeting lasted
about an hour. He told reporters the Indian premier congratulated
President Musharraf on the successful conduct of the 12th Saarc summit at
Islamabad. "Prime Minister Vajpayee also thanked the president for
the excellent arrangements for the summit, and the Indian
The foreign minister
revealed that the meeting took place in the presence of officials
concerned from both sides, and that it was not a "one-on-one"
call. He also said no schedule for holding such meetings in future had
been finalised yet, neither India had invited PM Jamali or President
Musharraf. He said President Musharraf had also not invited PM Vajpayee.
Sinha declined response to
queries vis-a-vis contents of the joint declaration on the meeting, saying
anyone who did so would not be sincere to the cause of peace in the
region. He also evaded a question whether or not the Kashmir issue was
Pakistan Foreign Office
spokesman Masood Khan, at a separate news briefing, termed the meeting
"important" and expressed his optimism that it would lead to a
composite dialogue between the two countries.
"The meeting between
President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee was important as it was
the first contact between the two since they met in Agra in 2001," he
said without sharing the details of the "courtesy call".
Khan was cautious not to
divulge the details of the meeting and despite repeated questions from
eager media men he did not go into the specifics of what was discussed by
the two leaders. He did not even comment when asked if the issues like
Kashmir or cross-border terrorism were discussed.
Replying to a question, Khan
did not commit that there would be follow up meetings after the two
leaders had met but hoped that it would facilitate dialogue between the
two sides. "I have no information about future meetings between
Pakistan and India," he maintained. "The positive development is
that the two leaders have met," he said, expecting that it would lead
to the initiation of dialogue process and ultimately composite talks.
The spokesman said the first
priority was the resumption of dialogue, which was suspended after Agra.
The details like the level of talks and the agenda to be discussed in
these talks were the subsequent priorities.
When asked if this meeting
had produced any result, Khan said such meetings were always important.
"We hope that this event would have positive impact on the peace and
security in the region," he said, commenting, "its just a
To a question about nuclear
related confidence building measures between the two countries and if the
matter was discussed in the meeting, the spokesman without addressing the
second part of the question said nuclear CBMs were a long-term goal.
He said it was important to
elaborate the CBMs and the two countries must come up with a restraint
Responding to a question
about the activities of Brajesh Mishra, the national security adviser to
Vajpayee, and if he met the ISI director general, the spokesman without
denying or confirming the report said Mishra was a member of the
Vajpayee’s official delegation visiting Pakistan. "He is having
meetings with officials here," he said.
In his initial statement
that he read, the spokesman said the meeting took place in a cordial
atmosphere. The Indian prime minister, he said, thanked the president for
the excellent arrangements for the Indian delegation and the hospitality
extended to them.
Vajpayee also congratulated
the president on a very successful conduct of the 12th Saarc summit. The
meeting, the spokesman said, lasted for slightly more than an hour.
From Indian side, he said
the external affairs minister, the national security adviser and the
foreign secretary attended the meeting. From the Pakistan side, the
foreign minister, the finance minister, the foreign secretary and
country’s high commissioner to India were present.
The spokesman recalled that
on the sidelines of the Saarc summit, the Indian prime minister had
requested for a call on the president. Accordingly, the meeting took place
PPI adds: The foreign
secretaries of Pakistan and India discussed bilateral and regional issues
on a breakfast meeting here on Monday.
The Foreign Office spokesman
told newsmen that the Saarc summit has provided an opportunity to both the
countries to resume bilateral talks.
He said although the recent
meetings between Pakistani and Indian leadership were just courtesy calls
yet all issues have been discussed in a very cordial atmosphere. Masood
Khan described these meetings as a good beginning for a bright future of
US welcomes Musharraf,
WASHINGTON: Washington on
Monday expressed hope for more engagement between Pakistan and India in
the first reaction to talks between President Pervez Musharraf and Indian
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on the sidelines of the Saarc summit
"The United States is
pleased that Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf met
today," a State Department official said. "We are also pleased
that other senior-level meetings have taken place between officials of
both governments. We warmly welcome these meetings, we hope they will lead
to further engagement and dialogue."
"Both countries have
taken a number of positive, confidence-building steps over the past
several months and we encourage them to continue this process," the
official said. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan also hailed the meeting
between the leaders of Pakistan and India. "He considers that these
meetings represent another important step forward in the continuing
bilateral efforts to improve relations and resolve outstanding issues
between the two countries," his spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
"The secretary general urges both sides to continue with these
efforts and hopes the summit meetings will give a new impetus to serious
and sustained dialogue," Eckhard said.
A significant beginning
By Mufti Jamiluddin Ahmad
The process, to the relief
of all, has begun. The beginning has been made. The suspense (some would
point out, entirely unnecessary) of the last so many days, that had, to a
very large extent, overshadowed the significant decisions taken at the
12th Saarc Summit, has ended. The (bilateral) meetings between Indian
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan
Jamali, and between Vajpayee and President Musharraf have at last come
The details, if any
disclosed by the two sides separately, could as well have been issued as a
one-line statement agreed by the two sides. For instance about the meeting
the Indian prime minister had with our president a "highly
important" piece of information was officially dished out by both
sides. It spoke of how grateful the Indian prime minister was for the
excellent arrangements made for his visit and the way he congratulated the
president about the successful running by Pakistan, so far, of the
In addition, how he thanked
the Pakistan president for this. Now this is not the kind of briefing from
either side to hundreds of journalists from Saarc countries waiting to
hear as to what happened on the sidelines of the Saarc Summit. Questions
asked by journalists in both the briefings of the Indian foreign minister
and the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman did not have answers worth a
front-page story. They, at best, were the usual clichÈs in furtherance of
the process of dialogue artfully coined by the foreign offices of the two
That the real, substantive
contents of the "courtesy call" of the Indian prime minister on
President Musharraf, and earlier on prime minister, have not been
disclosed in detail either by the Minister of External Affairs of the
government of India, Yashwant Sinha and the Foreign Office spokesman of
Pakistan Foreign Office, Masood Khan, indeed is highly significant and
augers well for dialogue between the two countries. It, indeed, reveals a
lot more, than it conceals. It reflects the highly fruitful nature of the
"mega" event... (In fact, journalists were begged not to ask
further questions because it may not be conducive to the furtherance of
the process started).
Has then the ball started
rolling? To any one observing the pattern of Pakistan-India relations,
especially since Agra, this, to use a Punjabi word, is the first "takra",
the first "dialogue" in two a half years between India and
Pakistan. (Remember the amassing of troops by India on our borders;
remember the continual refrain, the mantra of cross-border terrorism.
But also remember the speech
of the Indian prime minister about extending the hand of friendship, April
last year, and the way Prime Minister Jamali accepted this with open arms.
Also remember the unilateral ceasefire call by Pakistan, and its
acceptance by India, and also remember the concession of over-flights
announced by the president of Pakistan- flights that were suspended by our
neighbour unilaterally- and the quickest possible agreement on this as a
result of this CBM. Crossing by foot, the resumption of bus and rail links
are other recent developments fresh in the very recent memory).
Whatever the cynics may like
one to believe; even a "half-optimistic-assessment" would reveal
that "Gooftogo" about holding talks have definitely started. The
announcement of actual dates for these talks, and at what level these
should be held is, therefore, not very far away. Indian prime minister has
spoken of his party now advancing the "mudda" (issue) of peace
with Pakistan in his party’s election strategy; and let the party in
power take some time to devise ways and means to channelise this into its
For the aspirations, or at
least of a very big chunk of the more than one billion people of India and
Pakistan, demand peace than confrontation. The present Saarc spirit should
also give a real fillip to this effort. (There may still be the conspiracy
theorywalas talking of the pressure from abroad. But even if one hates to
mention it, the end objective might be good for peace in this
nuclear-armed South Asia where the two recognised nuclear powers have a
flashpoint in Kashmir that can trigger off a mighty, global conflict
sooner than any body would think).
Murshid sees enhanced
confidence among Saarc FMs
Foreign Minister Murshid Khan has said there is a lot of confidence and
goodwill among the foreign ministers of the member countries of the South
Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries, which
reflects the desire of the people in the region.
In an interview on Monday,
Murshid said foreign ministers of Saarc countries discussed everything
with an open mind and sincerity.
There was consensus among
all to have an economically strong and prosperous region wherein the
miseries of the common man are minimum, he said.
He said important among the
agreements reached between the Saarc members is the Social Charter, which
directly relates to the common man.
The particular feature of
this charter is cooperation in healthcare, curtailing the ills of society,
poverty alleviation, reforms in judicial systems, etc all of which focused
to provide relief to the common man, he added.
He said in the European
Union, 60 per cent trade is at inter-regional level while in Asia it also
makes a major proportion.
Unfortunately, he said,
there is only 2-3 per cent mutual trade among the Saarc members, which, if
raised to a level of 20-30 per cent in a period of 5-7 years, will give a
major boost to the economies of the member countries.
Murshid said there is
general consensus among the investors in the Western Europe and America
that it is East which provides markets to their products.
"We are living in the
East and yet looking beyond the market," he added.
He said the Saarc will enter its 20th year next year when it meets in Dhaka (Bangladesh) where new commitments would be made to enter the third decade with the objectives of prosperous and developed region.