‘Elimination of terrorism Pakistan’s primary job’


* Qureshi calls for developing regional approach to water issues
* Urges redoubling of SAARC efforts for energy security

THIMPHU: Elimination of terrorism from South Asia and beyond has remained and will continue to be Pakistan’s primary occupation, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Tuesday.

Addressing the 32nd Session of the SAARC council of ministers, Qureshi said Pakistan was completely aware of the importance of regional cooperation for combating terrorism, drugs, human trafficking and trans-national crime.

He said Pakistan was looking forward to hosting the SAARC Interior Ministers in Islamabad from June 25 to 26 to devise regional strategies and collaborative approaches to address the international menace of terrorism.

He said the foremost objective of SAARC was to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region.

The foreign minister said intra-regional trade must not be viewed as an end in itself but should be perceived as a means for overall, people-centric development.

He underlined the need to first take practical measures to build adequate infrastructure, ensure regional banking facilities and introduce harmonisation of standards.

He emphasised that SAARC needed to devise fresh methods and approaches to draw together all those who could contribute to solutions for regional issues that, by extension, were of international concern.

On food security, the foreign minister said although the food crisis that had hit the region in recent years had subsided, the possibility of future setbacks could not be overlooked, adding that SAARC countries could handle food shortages through sharing practices in agriculture, technology transfer and an efficient irrigation system.

Water issues: Qureshi said South Asia was a water-stressed region. He said it was important to develop a regional approach on water issues, including glacier melting, watershed management and pollution on an urgent basis.

Redoubling efforts: The foreign minister also underlined the need for redoubling SAARC efforts towards energy security through sharing of indigenous sources of energy.

“Pakistan supports measures to secure sustainable supplies to meet the regional energy demand at an affordable price,” Qureshi said. The foreign minister concluded his statement by stressing that regional cooperation must be formulated and pursued with political will and commitment of the member states.

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