SAARC Council of Ministers concludes stressing on effective role

(Basudev Poudel)

Pokhara, March 17: The 37th meeting of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Council of Ministers concluded in touristic city, Pokhara, on Thursday in a grand manner.

Various important decisions were made in the meeting held for the first time outside the Kathmandu Valley.

This time too all the member-nation expressed concern over the failure to attain the objectives of the establishment of the SAARC. They also univocally spoke the importance of making its role effective for poverty alleviation and development in the region.
It was visible that the meeting this time too was under the shade of the big countries. The breakfast meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Sworaj and Pakistani Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz became the matter of concern and conversation.

In the sideline bilateral meeting, Indian External Affaris Minister Sworaj underscored the need of Indo-Pak collaboration in the region.

Likewise, after the meeting, Pakistani PM’s advisor Aziz commented the conversation between the two countries as important.

In the inaugural session of the Council of Ministers, Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said the poverty was the key bottleneck to the development of the SAARC. He also stressed the need of mobilizing available resources together with mutual coordination to make poverty a history in the region.

Indian Minister Sworaj also highlighted the need of coordination and cooperation among the SAARC nations for prosperity and development of the region.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa, who chaired the SAARC Council of Ministers, said that the meeting enforced the decisions taken by the last Summit held in Kathmandu and also took important decision concerning the timing of the SAARC Summit.

The meeting in Pokhara endorsed the report of the SAARC Standing Committee and decided to establish the SAARC Environment Disaster Management Centre in New Delhi, India. A decision was also taken to merge the energy centre into the SAARC Environment component in Islamabad, Pakistan.

DPM Thapa also said that a decision has been taken to hold the SAARC Summit henceforth in every two years and in the month of November. This will, however, has to be endorsed by the upcoming SAARC Summit.

The next SAARC Summit is being held in Islamabad, Pakistan from November 9-10, 2016. Pakistan has also proposed its candidate to replace SAARC General Secretary Arjun Bahadur Thapa, upon the expiry of his term, which will be endorsed by the Summit to be held in Islamabad.

Making the SAARC’s role more effective was the concern of all member states and the meeting held serious discussions about meeting the goal and targets of the establishment of SAARC.

Integrating the scattered projects and programmes and implementing them with the goal of improving economic status of the people in the region were raised with priority in the meeting, DPM Thapa said. The SAARC special guests admired high support of the Pokhara folks in hosting the SAARC Council of Ministers meeting in the town.

The Programme Committee meeting was held on March 14 and 15, while the Standing Committee meeting took place on March 16.

The meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers was inaugurated by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli amidst a special ceremony in the morning today. It was held amidst tight security and a large number of media persons from home and abroad were present for the news coverage of the regional event.

The holding of this type of high-profile conference in Pokhara was very crucial from the perspective of tourism promotion, said Chairperson of Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and industry Bindu Kumar Thapa. He added the successful organization of the event has excited the locals, tourism entrepreneurs and traders here.