Posted by: Administrator | 15 September, 2006

President hosted Banquet in Honor of SAARC Heads of State and Governments

4 Jan 2004, Islamabad

First ladies, Honourable guests, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen;

It is indeed my pleasure and my privilege to extend a very warm welcome to the members of our SAARC family. We are indeed delighted by your presence in Islamabad for the 12th SAARC Summit. The chosen venue of this Summit, the Jinnah Convention Center, bears testimony to the vision, determination and the courage of our father of the nation Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. We hope that the short time that you spend in Pakistan will be pleasant and fruitful and you will carry home very happy memories of your stay with us.

Ladies and gentlemen; It was in 1985 that the SAARC Charter was crafted in Dhaka by its founding fathers to fulfill the noble vision of a peaceful and progressive South Asia. The SAARC was born out of the realization that the destiny of the peoples of our region was inextricably linked and that SAARC was to serve as the mechanism for a historic South Asian enterprise for peace and development.

There is no doubt that our region is blessed with immense resources, economic complementarities, historic ties, geographical affinities and a rich cultural heritage. This places us in a position of unique collective advantage yet we are far from realization of our full

potential or the great vision of SAARC. Despite 18 years of our existence, SAARC linkages and

affinity still remains fragile.

It is very wisely said that the past belong to Europe, the present to the United States but the

future is of Asia. This vision is maturing into reality with a visible economic and commercial

linkages being developed between South East, East and North East Asia: Unfortunately, South

Asia, which is home to 1/5th of humanity, remains out of this loop. This is only because our intra

regional bonds remain unrealized.

The scenario, however, is not all pessimistic. Some progress towards integration has been made.

The SAARC has to its credit 12th Summit and a host of meetings on specialized themes; a

beginning has been made towards closer economic and commercial cooperation. Several

conventions on a range of issues such as terrorism, narcotics and drugs trafficking in women and

children and child welfare have been adopted. This does reflect some movement but more

intangible terms remains to be achieved. The gap between promise and potential has to be


As I said our region is home to 1/5th of humanity. Our people are talented and hardworking.

Taken together, South Asia has the potential to become a major economic center. Yet the vast

majority in South Asia is afflicted with poverty and illiteracy, thousands of women lose their

lives in the process of giving birth, thousands of children die because they don’t have proper

medical care, clean water or an adequate diet, our social indicators are poor and our economy

struggles to cope with the welfare and emancipation of our masses. Why this dismal picture, we

have dissipated our energies in an internal and external political conflicts.

We have the capacity and need to build the resolve to take up the challenge facing us and address

our problems squarely, if we manage to do so we shall be able to ride the crest and put South

Asia at the center of global processes to advance peace, stability and prosperity. We have to


build courage and show determination to seize the moment and avail ourselves of this historic

opportunity to assure for our peoples a life of peace, contentment and dignity. Pakistan is

prepared to play its role fully.


We in South Asia are the custodians of an ancient and rich civilization. Our museums and

archaeological sites speak of societies that had flourished in the by-gone millenniums. The

pioneered agriculture trade along the silk-route had constructed dwellings and even universities

at a time when the rest of the world was enveloped in darkness. Just a short distance from here,

from Islamabad at Taxila our sites dating back to two millennium where knowledge and culture

flourished. As we renew our quest to re-invent the South Asian identity, we must hold fast to our

enlightened values and our traditions.

A new civilizational synthesis must emerge from the SAARC discourse. A synthesis that

treasures diversity and tonality of the nations of South Asia and is unambiguously premised on

sovereign equality, tolerance, magnanimity and respect for each other. The bitter truth is that

SAARC will

resolved peacefully, with justice and with equity. There can be no development in the absence of peace.

There can be no peace so long as political issues and disputes continue to fester. Elimination of the root

causes of tensions and peaceful resolution of our disputes and differences are essential steps towards

embarrassing the vision of a cohesive and integrated South Asia to which we all subscribe and we all

yearn for.

South Asia must realize its destiny by confronting its problems not. Shying away from them and refusing

to acknowledge their existence. We must

tension. We feel there is a need to expand our charter to constitute a mechanism to even discuss bilateral

issues at the regional level. We owe this to our peoples; let us make a solemn pledge not to disappoint

them. All of us have a vital stake in the success of this endeavor. If we fail, cynicism will take over and

our organization will lose credibility and momentum.

Pakistan will sincerely endeavor to foster better understanding and cooperation with all the countries of

the region. We wish to address all problems and disputes boldly with the objective of seeking honorable

solutions based on mutual respect and a spirit of accommodation. We believe that we owe this to our

future generations. We look for a similar commitment and sincerity of purpose from all.

Honored guests, our ultimate aim must be to make our association a model for regional cooperation in its

true manifestation; one in which member- states respect the principles of, sovereign equality, national

independence and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. Where benefits are equitably shared by

all of us and their blessings pour down to our masses.

We believe that this is a goal well within our grasp provided we rise to the occasions. Our national poet

Allama Iqbal had very aptly captured this thought,


part, the government and people of Pakistan remain fully committed to the objectives enshrined in the

SAARC Charter. We are determined to contribute in every way possible to the strengthening of SAARC

for the progress and well-being of the peoples of South Asia.



never achieve its full potential unless the disputes and tensions that put us apart areput behind us the tarnished legacy of mistrust, bitterness and“ZARA NUM HO TO YA MITTI BARRIIf I was to translate this, if a little moist this soil is immensely fertile. For ourExcellencies,

it has been a special pleasure and an honor for Pakistan and for me personally to welcome you all

to Islamabad. I wish you every success in your deliberations. I pray for your long life and health

and for the ever-increasing prosperity of the people of South Asia.

Long live SAARC.

I thank you all ladies and gentlemen.


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