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Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, addressed the Informal Session of SAARC Council of Ministers held virtually on the sidelines of UNGA. Ministers of all SAARC Member States and the Secretary General SAARC participated.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in his statement, reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the SAARC process and highlighted its importance in the context of regional economic and development challenges. The Foreign Minister outlined the impact COVID-19 has had globally, in general, and in the South Asian region, in particular. He shared with the member states the steps taken by Pakistan to successfully contain and control the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its economic impact. He offered to share Pakistan’s best practices with other regional states in their fight against the pandemic.

The Foreign Minister also emphasized that the fight against COVID-19 could truly be successful only if the whole region was able to contain the virus. Following this regional approach, Pakistan organized the SAARC Health Ministers’ Video Conference. He highlighted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call to the world leaders, leading financial institutions and the UN Secretary General, for launching ‘Global Initiative for Debt Relief’ to provide much needed relief to the developing countries. The Foreign Minister also highlighted the changing nature of challenges being faced by the region such as the pandemic, climate change and food insecurity and said that SAARC had to prepare itself to deal effectively with these challenges.

Foreign Minister Qureshi underlined that peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes was a pre-requisite for achieving development, economic growth, poverty alleviation and social uplift of our masses. He emphasized the importance of faithfully following the UN Charter and implementing UN Security Council Resolutions.

The Foreign Minister condemned and opposed any unilateral and illegal measures to change the status of disputed territories in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions. Such unilateral measures, he added, run counter to the shared objective of creating a regional environment of amity and cooperation and these must be opposed resolutely.

In the spirit of regionalism and as per Pakistan’s commitment to the SAARC platform the Foreign Minister reiterated Pakistan’s willingness for hosting the 19th SAARC Summit at Islamabad. He expressed hope that the artificial obstacles created in its way would be removed and SAARC would be enabled to function as an effective instrument of regional cooperation.

During the session, the Secretary General SAARC presented status of implementation of regional cooperation since the last informal meeting which was held in New York in 2019 and also since the 18th SAARC Summit. The meeting also reviewed the regional efforts to combat COVID-19. All the Foreign Ministers spoke on the occasion.


24 September 2020

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