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SAARC successful in promoting regional cooperation, goodwill and understanding

SAARC successful in promoting regional cooperation, goodwill and understanding
SAARC successful in promoting regional cooperation, goodwill and understanding

(Sharachchandra Bhandary) 

Kathmandu,28 Nov 2014:  The 18th Kathmandu Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has been successful in promoting cooperation, goodwill and understanding among the member states for the regional development.

Adopt leadership skills of SAARC Chairman and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala,  good wishes of the ruling and opposition parties, and  the support and cooperation from all the security bodies and the entire  bureaucracy is credited for the successful conclusion of the two-day Summit held at local City Hall on November 26-27 with the theme of ‘Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity’.

Effective and right operation of diplomacy, creation of mutual cooperation and trust and the broad thinking of the government that minor issues are not hurdles for regional integrity are highly evaluated for the successful completion of the Summit.

Commitments made by SAARC Heads of State and Government during the Summit to taking the SAARC, a regional common forum of eight countries in South Asia, ahead with a new thinking and making it dynamic as per the people’s expectations have not only encouraged the new generation but also motivated them to go with the sense of togetherness to gain peace, prosperity and economic progress.

The successful completion of the 18th SAARC Summit has been the matter of pride for Nepal and its people. Moreover, the Summit was a great matter of concern and interests of the entire people of Nepal as Kathmandu is the capital of SAARC for around the past three decades, a Nepali citizen being the present Secretary General of SAARC and the Summit was hosted by Nepal itself.

Nepal’s experience of successful holding of the Summit has boosted up its confidence that it could easily host the fourth meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation  (BIMSTEC) scheduled to be held in the capital next year.

It has been widely realised that PM Koirala’s role in garnering support and cooperation from two big neighbours with his brief visits there and his meaningful participation in the BIMSTEC and  69th session of the United Nations General Assembly  in the period of past 10 months since he assumed the post was giving a positive message to the international community.

SAARC’s success is connected with the moral support and cooperation that PM garnered from the European Union, one of the observers to SAARC, during his trip home from New York after taking part in the UNGA.

During the 18th Summit, PM Koirala stressed on strengthening the SAARC and transforming it into a common forum of regional integrity and cooperation, reiterating Nepal’s top priority for the building of economically rich and prosperous South Asia. His statements on making the SAARC more active for strengthening regional unity, demonstrating solidarity and consolidating mutual ties gave a clear message that onwards SAARC could not run through conventional way.

It is a matter of honor for Nepal to be lauded by the Heads of State and governments of the SAARC member countries for the Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s remarks on SAARC, that underscored the need for a steadfast friendship and unity among the SAARC member states so as to enhance the peace, development and mutual co-operation deliberated by the SAARC forum during its establishment.

The bilateral meetings Nepal held with Afghanistan’s President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani and Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa  remained fruitful, especially in the light of sharing experiences of the respective countries that were once traumatized by the civil-wars and insurgency of Taliban and Tamil Tigers respectively.

The consultation Nepalese PM Koirala held with his Bhutanese counterpart, Tshering Tobgay, on allowing the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal to re-settle in their home country, although ended inconclusively, has kindled a beam of hope for the 20 thousands Bhutanese refugees residing in various camps in Nepal.

After the positive intervention of the International Migration Organization, an international organization advocating the welfare of the refugees across the world, many Bhutanese refugees in Nepal have been re-habilitated in the US, Canada and various other European countries.

But many here in Nepal still yearn for a ‘respectful return’ to their own soil (in Bhutan) provided the both nation agrees on it at diplomatic level.

Koirala’s role, in a capacity of the Chairman of the 18th Summit, to thaw the strained ties between India and Pakistan did garner the appreciation to some extent.

Nepal, which also instigated these two Supremos to exchange pleasantries during closing session of the summit and a ‘tete-a-tete’ during the’re-treat’, has been able to disseminate a positive message to extend the olive branch, resolving the difference in the positive and peaceful manner.

The handshakes, exchange of the pleasantries among the leaders assembled for the Summit may look like a diplomatic decorum at a mere glance but the role of ‘catalyst’ Nepal, as a host country, and Prime Minister as a Head of Government played cannot be overlooked.

“SAARC is a family, hence, it is no wonder if the members of the family hold hands, hug each other and converse,” stated PM Koirala, refusing to take the credit for the ‘ice-break’ between these two leaders.

Similarly, The Indian Premier’s bilateral meeting with Bangladeshi Premier also helped develop a common view on the issues of mutual help and interest as well as the SAARC process.

Modi’s inaugural speech in the Summit also became the ‘Talk of the Town’ across the region for he was of the opinion that we join our hands and walk in step so as the path ahead becomes easier, the journey quicker and destination closer.

The decision of engaging the Observer countries, which stand at 9 in number as of now, on the ‘project-basis’ and the priority areas identified by the member states, benefitting the region overall, has also been heartily appreciated.

This thirty-year organization is believed to move ahead with the new zest and zeal and a leap of faith post this Summit that has issued a 36-point Kathmandu Declaration, the manifestation of the collective commitment of the SAARC leaders to for a deeper regional integration the region in terms of connectivity, energy, economic prosperity and terrorism and the common areas of co-operations.

The Summit decisions of closing three regional centers and merge others four with the new Environment and Disaster Management Center has flowed the message that the SAARC could take a new pace in the days ahead. In view of former Minister for Foreign Affairs, the decision is meant for regional integrity in development endevours and reaching the outcomes to the poor people.

Former Foreign Secretary Madhuram Acharya realised that the SAARC is oriented towards the path of regional integrity.  He said he was hopeful that deeper integration in the region was possible in the days ahead. The move to downsize the regional mechanism is to focus on the promotion of regional integrity, he said.

Former Permanent representative to the Geneva-based UN Mission and other international organisations, Dr Shambu Simkhada said the Dhulikhel retreat of the SAARC leaders and the ‘Modi-Sharif’ handshake during the concluding ceremony  of SAARC Summit  created a new hope that India-Pakistan cold relations will  improve in the upcoming days and the SAARC would transform into a meaningful and dynamic organisation.

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