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Pakistan to Host SAARC Summit after ‘Artificial Obstacles’ Removed: Qureshi

by Newsweek Pakistan

Photo courtesy PID

In meeting with SAARC secretary-general, foreign minister offers condolences for death of Priyantha Kumara and assures that all perpetrators will be brought to justice

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday assured the secretary-general of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) that Pakistan is committed to hosting the SAARC summit after “artificial obstacles” in its paths are removed.

The veiled condemnation of India came during a meeting between Qureshi and Secretary General Esala Ruwan Weerako in Islamabad, the first time the Sri Lankan diplomat has visited Pakistan since assuming office in March 2020. Expressing his condolence on the death of Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara, the foreign minister stated that Pakistan’s entire nation, political leadership and religious scholars had condemned the incident and the Government of Pakistan was determined to take all necessary steps to bring perpetrators to justice.

Kumara, a manager at a factory in Sialkot, was tortured to death by an enraged mob earlier this month over allegations of blasphemy. After killing him, the mob set his body on fire. The government has vowed to ensure all culprits are brought to justice and stressed that the incident would not be allowed to hamper ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to the principles and objectives of the SAARC Charter for the welfare of the people of the region, economic integration and regional prosperity, Qureshi maintained that Islamabad believed SAARC could provide a conducive and congenial atmosphere to build economic synergies and transform the quality of life of the people of South Asia.

According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, the minister noted the important and constructive role played by Pakistan in realizing the true potential of SAARC and making it a useful organization for regional cooperation and mutual benefit based on the principle of sovereign equality. He also reassured Weerako of Pakistan’s strong support for regional cooperation and urged him to accelerate the pace of SAARC process.

The secretary general, read the statement, thanked the foreign minister for sharing his views on different SAARC related issues and offered his assurances for making concerted efforts to strengthen cooperation among all member states to realize the full potential of the bloc.

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