Islamabad: Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Thinley Sunday called for more concerted and collective efforts by the member states of the South Asian Region to boost regional trade, tourism, protect environment and eradicate menace of terrorism from the region.
Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, after his first visit to Pakistan as elected prime minister, he said Bhutan is a firm believer in the collective future of South Asian countries which share a common heritage.
The Bhutanese Prime Minister who is also current Chairman of SAARC said, “I believe much progress has been made to realize the vast potential for regional cooperation in SAARC.”
He underlined the need to adopt a more regional approach by the members of the SAARC on all the issues as they share a common heritage and future.
“There are some psychological, historical and political barriers which are in some ways insurmountable but despite these barriers the achievements by the SAARC, eight member regional organization, are commendable and demonstrate the will to work together,” he added.
Highlighting the achievements of SAARC, he especially mentioned the establishment of South Asian Free Trade Area to raise intra SAARC trade volume which at present is of one billion dollars, trade and services agreement, start of courses at first SAARC university
and $ 300 million South Asia Development Fund. He said these are part of efforts to promote activities for socioeconomic progress in the region.
He said SAARC has agreed to counter threats posed by climate change and it is unfortunate that the region is suffering from the evil of terrorism which has taken root.
“We need to make individual and collective efforts to get rid of the menace of terrorism,” he added.
The Bhutanese Prime Minister said SAARC countries as signatories on convention against terrorism, had developed a mechanism for sharing intelligence to counter terrorism.
He said in August, Bhutan will be hosting a conference of home ministers of SAARC to discuss ways and means to enhance cooperation against the threat of terrorism.
He lauded Pakistani leadership and people for making a valiant efforts against the threat and expressed hope that they will succeed in overcoming the challenges.