Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday extended his greetings and felicitations to the people of member countries on the 35th SAARC Charter Day. In a letter addressed to the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) Secretariat, the PM Modi wrote: "India continues to support various initiatives to achieve closer cooperation in diverse areas. Let us, on the occasion of the 35th SAARC Charter Day, dedicate ourselves to the task of fulfilling the aspirations of our people for a prosperous and peaceful South Asia." The Secretariat is headquartered in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.
"SAARC has made progress, but more needs to be done. Our efforts for greater collaboration have repeatedly been challenged with threats and acts of terrorism. Such an environment impedes our shared objective of realising the full potential of SAARC," PM Modi further stressed.
In a veiled reference to Pakistan, PM Modi stressed that "all countries in the region take effective steps to defeat the scourge of terrorism and the forces that support it. This will generate greater trust and confidence to build a stronger SAARC."
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established when its Charter was formally adopted on December 8, 1985, by the Heads of State or Government of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the First Summit meeting in Dhaka.
Prime Minister Modi's letter holds significance as India has not participated in the SAARC summit citing Pakistan's inability to curb terrorism on its soil. The last SAARC summit attended by India was in Kathmandu in 2014, the year Narendra Modi took office. Pakistan was scheduled to host the 19th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Islamabad in 2016. However, India cancelled the meeting following the terrorist attack at a military camp at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 19 people. Following this, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives also dropped out of the Summit. Since then, there has been no SAARC Summit. Experts say that the tension within SAARC has hampered the immense potential the bloc holds for furthering good initiatives for the subcontinent that houses one-fourth of mankind.
(With ANI inputs)