ISLAMABAD, 26th August, 2016 (WAM) – Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif said that his country remains committed to jointly work with the SAARC member states to get the people of the South Asian region out of clutches of poverty, illiteracy and other social ills.

He was addressing the inaugural session of the 8th meeting of Finance Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries here, according to the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP).

The prime minister called for making the organisation more efficient, practical and responsive to the expectations of the people, and in this regard urged all SAARC member states, secretariat, and regional centres and specialised bodies to make co-ordinated, sustained and resolute efforts.

He said Pakistan believes in a SAARC solution to regional issues by fully supporting all the initiatives taken by it. He said Pakistan also supported all initiatives taken under SAARC.

He said Pakistan has also been a strong advocate for stepping up regional efforts to ensure energy security for sharing of indigenous sources of energy.

Sharif said Pakistan believes that road, rail and air connectivity were critical to the progress and prosperity of the region.

“We believe that SAARC must position itself to engage interested states and organisations to develop win-win complementarities for social economic progress in the region,” he remarked during his speech.

He said the SAARC organisation was formed three decades earlier with a commitment to promote social welfare, improving quality of life and cultural development.

He said increasing interdependence and common concerns have led to the need of finding regional solutions.

He said increasing connectivity, ease in communication, freer trade and finding innovative solutions to hunger, poverty and food security has helped the world to enhance regional and sub-regional co-operation.

Sharif said progress has been made to counter the impact of climate change, spread of diseases, economic spill-over and social evils were being dealt by joint strategies at regional level.

He stressed that interdependence calls for greater cohesion among the SAARC member states.

The prime minister said South Asia was a region of vast opportunities endowed with abundant human and natural resources, having one-fifth of the humanity.