Hon’ble Foreign/External Affairs Ministers from SAARC countries,
My Cabinet Colleagues,
His Excellency SAARC Secretary General,
Friends from Media
Ladies and Gentlemen:
- It gives me great pleasure to address the inaugural segment of the Thirty-Seventh Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers in Pokhara, a city well known for beautiful lakes, spectacular landscape, magnificent mountains and hospitable people.
- I wish to extend a very warm welcome to all of you in this city. I hope delegates have found a moment out of their hectic business session to go around the city and enjoy its scenic beauty. I believe your stay in Pokhara will certainly remain memorable.
Excellencies and distinguished delegates,
- South Asia is one of the most dynamic regions in the world. A region of labourious men and women, a region with rich cultural heritage, a region of economic potentials, a region of opportunities and a region of hope; South Asia, with its great civilization, bears the potential to inspire the common humanity. Now the history has bestowed, our generation and the generations to come, to uphold that civilizational legacy of South Asia, to materialize that potential and to uphold the welfare of South Asian brothers and sisters.
- As we observe today, South Asia is emerging as the potential global economic powerhouse. It is imperative that we build on this economic progress and its associated positive synergies and complementarities to promote enhanced cooperation in line with the objectives of the SAARC.
- However a common enemy to South Asia looms around. An enemy that is draining our potentials, an enemy that is ridiculing our collective efforts, an enemy that is threatening the whole of South Asia and an enemy that is testing our abilities and intentions. And the enemy is real, pervasive and stubborn. We need to work together to conquer this enemy. We need to intensify our cooperation to wipe out the very traces of this enemy. We need to act collectively to annihilate this common enemy.
- The enemy called poverty, the enemy called backwardness. At any cost we cannot afford this enemy to win. We see no reason for South Asia to be at the downside of development landscape. The cooperation is, thus not a luxury.
- It is a fundamental necessity to conquer the enemy- poverty and backwardness. And we have the capacity and resources to do so. What we need is the political will of highest order to cooperate and to collaborate in a spirit of enduring partnership.
- It goes without saying that our increased understanding, our flexibility and our collaboration will contribute to create a positive atmosphere. A positive atmosphere for meaningful cooperation, a positive atmosphere for deeper integration, a positive atmosphere to bring the structural transformation to South Asia. A positive atmosphere to breathe life into the dream of prosperous and connected South Asia. And we need to invest our resources, invest our hard-work, and invest our passion to build that atmosphere. We need to invest on the core economic areas; and Build a bastion upon which the connected South Asia will rest with dignity that it deserves.
Excellencies and distinguished delegates,
- Connectivity remains a key enabler for robust regional cooperation. Connectivity of infrastructures as well as of ideas, connectivity in terms of information and telecommunication technology as well as of knowledge, connectivity in terms of energy as well as of literature and culture, connectivity of markets as well as of minds can indeed unleash the potential of South Asian cooperation. It can promote meaningful cooperation in trade and investment, in tourism, in finance, and in energy with multiplier effects.
- The dream of prosperous South Asia cannot survive without the lifeline of connectivity. The edifice of dynamic South Asia cannot thrive without the foundation of connectivity. The architecture of South Asian cooperation cannot stand upright without the pedestal of connectivity.
- Remember, Ladies and Gentlemen, Cooperation is not a luxury. And Connectivity is not a luxury either.
- We need to set our priorities right and we need to act now. Act decisively. Act more loudly than our words, act more intensely than our intentions. And we need to act collectively, for our benefit; for our collective benefit.
- To realize the vision of developed South Asia, We need to vitalize the engine of economic prosperity. The engine called trade. It is unfortunate to note that we trade little within the region. Faster progress in SAFTA and SATIS is the need of the hour. In the absence of such doable core instruments, the vision of South Asia Economic Union will merely remain a distant dream.
- Our vision needs to be matched by commitments and commitments by deeds, by actions. Yes, the time has come- to act now, and to act decisively.
- When world today is going through unprecedented waves of globalization, South Asia cannot be a bystander to the happenings of world. SAARC must revitalize itself to be an important player in the global forward looking endeavor. We need to strengthen our collaboration and intensify our interactions with other international and regional organizations; with organizations that share similar goal for the prosperity of common humanity.
- Our region has been bearing the heavy brunt of unprecedented blow of natural calamities. Calamities such as earthquakes and floods have caused colossal loss. And, we have been bearing the adverse and disproportionate consequences of climate change. We experienced enormous devastation in the wake of recent earthquakes all across the region; including that of the Earthquake in Nepal in April last year.
- This calls for collective preparedness, collective responsiveness and collective collaboration. Preparedness to prevent the perils of such calamities; responsiveness to deal with destruction of such disasters and, collaboration to mitigate the menace of climate change.
Excellencies, distinguished delegates
- The SAARC Charter has kept people at the centre of regional cooperation. It has envisioned people-centric regional actions. SAARC cannot be a success story unless the quality of life of our people gets ameliorated.
SAARC needs to bring the rays of hopes and incidence of improvement upon the people living in privation. The people who have been living in destitute and backwardness, the people who have been bearing the brunt of deprivation, must be the priority on our agendas and as well as (on our) actions. SAARC must be established as the region where women are safe, where children are secure, and where they will live with dignity, with freedom from fear.
- SAARC, the association, cannot be a success story unless we lift our people out of poverty and deprivation.
- South Asia, the idea, cannot be a success story unless we feed well the curious minds of South Asians, unless we equip well their dexterous hands and unless we nourish well their creative aspirations.
- South Asia, the future, cannot be a success story unless we invest in our youths. Our cooperation must work to stimulate the creation of jobs for our youths. We should strive to best utilize the dexterity of these youths, strive to retain their energy. We need to invest in the productive sectors. Sectors which are essential to halt the exodus of youths and enable to make them contribute for better and developed South Asia.
South Asia, the dream, cannot be a success story unless all the South Asians get the opportunity to enrich their motherland with their energy and aspirations.
- Standing on the citadel of successful South Asia, successful SAARC, we will ultimately fortify the common South Asian identity. We will uphold our existing commonalities, our shared beliefs, our shared heritage and our shared history.
- South Asia, despite, being Well-endowed with resources, with promising potentials, still lags behind in overall development. The development performance is dismal if not discouraging. But we have the strength and potentials to develop a sustainable and accomplished economy; to utilize our innovative south Asians to develop the modern technology; and to be the global economic powerhouse.
- The whole world is closely and constantly watching our strength and potentials. Watching our efforts as well as our aspirations. Watching our performance as well as our promises. Watching with good will as well as with curiosity.
- Ladies and Gentlemen; we need to move forward with clear vision and strong resolve to exalt the dignity of South Asia. To promote better economic prospects for our people. And to enable South Asia to lead the forefront of global affairs.
- We need to act now, and act collectively. We need to respond with our collective wisdom to conceive a Success Story of South Asia, the region; South Asia, the idea; South Asia, the future and South Asia, the dream.
- With all the enthusiasm and optimism, it is my understanding that this ministerial meeting will mainly focus on review, of the implementation of the decisions contained in the Kathmandu Declaration 2014 and will work out agendas for consideration at the Nineteenth Summit to be held in Pakistan in November this year.
- I have no doubt that you will be able to take concrete decisions to advance the SAARC process forward in line with the spirit of the 18th SAARC Summit- Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity. I wish to commend the excellent works done by various SAARC mechanisms.
Excellencies and distinguished delegates,
- As the devastating earthquake struck Nepal on 25th of April last year and several aftershocks augmented the disaster, the spontaneous and generous support from our South Asian friends solaced us on that difficult hour of tragedy. I take the opportunity to convey my sincere appreciation to all SAARC Member States for support and assistance extended to my country. The support provided was indeed a manifestation of South Asian solidarity and functional cooperation. The moment demonstrated once again that we, the South Asians are always united and care about each other when in difficulty and distress. Our country is now engaged in the vital task of reconstruction of the damaged structures so as to build better and develop our long-term resilience.
- Before I conclude, I would like to speak briefly on the current political situation in the country. Nepal ushered into a new era in its political and constitutional history. We promulgated a democratic and inclusive constitution through the Constituent Assembly elected by the people of Nepal.
- The new constitution has embraced the system of inclusive governance, embraced the value of democratic pluralism, embraced the rule of law, embraced the respect for human rights. It has done so in line with the aspirations of diverse communities in the country. The promulgation of the constitution together with its first amendment thereafter has brought the protracted peace process and political transition to a logical conclusion. Nepal would like to express sincere appreciation to all SAARC fellow member states for their continued support to, and solidarity with, the people of Nepal in realizing this vital national objective.
- Our priority has now been directed towards achieving accelerated socio-economic transformation in the country. It is our firm conviction that a peaceful Nepal, a stable Nepal, a democratic and prosperous Nepal will also be in the interest of our region.
- To conclude, Excellencies and distinguished delegates, as the current Chair of SAARC, I would like to express sincere appreciation to all Member States for the cooperation extended to Nepal in discharge of its duties, following the assumption of the Chairmanship in the last Summit. I would like to reiterate Nepal’s full commitment to the ideals, principles and objectives of the Organization for the continued progress, prosperity and wellbeing of the people of our region. I call upon all Member States to keep the SAARC spirit alive for the betterment of our people; and for the enrichment of our South Asian identity.
- I wish for your productive deliberations and look forward to the fruitful outcome of the meeting.
- Wishing all the delegates a pleasant stay in Nepal, I thank you very much!