NEW DELHI :
THE SAARC must overcome three key challenges of cross-border terrorism, blocking of connectivity and obstruction in trade, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday in a clear criticism of Pakistan at a virtual meeting of the regional grouping. In his address at the SAARC Foreign Ministers informal meeting, Jaishankar also called for a collectively resolve to defeat the scourge of terrorism, including the forces that nurture, support and encourage it. Jaishankar reaffirmed India’s commitment to its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and towards building a connected, integrated and prosperous South Asia.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was among the participants of the meeting which was organised in continuation of a tradition of informal exchanges among the Foreign Ministers of the grouping on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The 75th session of the UN General Assembly is currently underway. The external affairs minister said SAARC has made significant progress over the last 35 years but the efforts towards collective collaboration and prosperity have been hampered by acts of terrorism and threats to national security.
“Such an environment impedes our shared objective of realising the full potential of our collective endeavour. It is therefore crucial that we collectively resolve to defeat the scourge of terrorism, including the forces that nurture, support and encourage it,” he was quoted as saying by MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava in a series of tweets. Jaishankar said such an approach will generate the much-needed trust and confidence to collectively build a stronger and prosperous SAARC.
Besides India and Pakistan, the grouping comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “Addressed the #SAARC Foreign Ministers Informal Meeting today. Reaffirmed India’s commitment to Neighbourhood First policy and towards building a connected, integrated, secure and prosperous South Asia,” Jaishankar tweeted.