Pakistan said on Thursday it was ready to host a long-running conference of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), an important regional cooperation organization.
“Pakistan is committed to its policy and is hosting the SAARC conference … It believes that all barriers to the long-running SAARC conference should be removed,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri told reporters during a weekly press conference.
The last SAARC summit which was held in Kathmandu back in the year 2014.
The SAARC summit back in the year 2016 was to be held in Islamabad. But after the terrorist attacks on the Indian military base at Ur in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18 that year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to “circumstances”.
The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also refused to attend the Islamabad summit.
SAARC conferences are usually held annually and hosted by member countries alphabetically. The host country nominates the Chairman of the Association.
In a message during the 36th SAARC summit on December 8 last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the full power of the eight-member organization could only be found in a place where there was no fear and violence.
On 8th December 1985, at the first SAARC summit in Dhaka, leaders of seven South Asian countries – the Maldives, India, Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka signed a memorandum of understanding. Afghanistan became the eighth SAARC member in 2007.
During a press conference at the foreign office on Thursday, Chaudhri also dismissed reports that Pakistan was importing Covid-19 vaccine into India.
He said in response to a question that the Pakistan has never entered into a bilateral agreement on the purchase of India’s Covid-19 vaccine.
The spokesman said Gavi, the international vaccination federation – had promised to provide vaccines in a number of countries, including Pakistan under its COVAX base and the acquisition of goods was Gavi’s responsibility and not the countries he received.
Responding to another question about negotiations with India, a spokesman for the conference said Pakistan had never escaped the talks and had been seeking a peaceful settlement of all remaining disputes, including Kashmir.
Asked about India’s inclusion in the upcoming conference on Afghanistan, he said Pakistan supports this regional approach. He said that with regard to India’s inclusion in the Afghanistan peace process, Pakistan supports regional mechanisms for resolving the conflict in Afghanistan.
However, he said that India was not a constructive partner for the peace in Afghanistan.
In another question on the provision of temporary positions in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), Chaudhri said Pakistan has always maintained that these reforms are an ongoing process that includes political, administrative and economic reforms.
He said that they have long been wanted by the GB people. These reforms, which are aimed at further empowering the GB people, will continue in line with their needs and aspirations.
India had previously criticized Pakistan’s attempts to give the province a “so-called Gilgit-Baltistan state”, saying it was intended to “cover up” the illegal “settlement of the region by Islamabad.
Responding to a question on Afghanistan, a spokesman for the foreign office said it was important for Afghanistan parties to continue negotiations and follow the Afghanistan-led peace process.
“Pakistan welcomes US efforts to revive the peace process and accelerate the final political agreement,” he said.