South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

Statement by H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin Permanent Representative of the Islamic Repbulic of Afghanistan to th UN at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Regretfully, H.E. Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, was not able to participate to our meeting today as he had to accompany our President back to Afghanistan.
However, on his behalf, I wish to begin by extending to you our appreciation for convening today’s meeting…
Mr. Chairman,
Since its creation SAARC has truly fulfilled its core mandate and provided great services to our people by connecting them through trade and transit facilitation, sharing of know-how as well as transfer of technology. I deeply believe that one of the greatest accomplishments of our organization has been to open new opportunities for least developed member countries to receive capacity building assistance from the members possessing advanced technologies and large pool of highly educated and skilled workforce.
Nevertheless, despite our joint efforts to promote growth and development in our region as well as improving the welfare of our people, our countries are still facing multiple challenges ranging from poverty and hunger to significant gap between the rich and the poor. This reality contradicts the objectives of our organization and requires from us to adopt innovative policies that will benefit the majority of our people particularly the vulnerable one, and to consider practical and rapid ways of its implementation.
Mr. Chairman
In order to further regional cooperation in the interest of prosperity of our people and identify the most suitable response to address common challenges, we need to adopt an integrated and coordinated operational approach that will contribute to evolve our organization from a conceptual to an operational level. This strategy needs to combine the following elements:

  • Providing special attention for the adoption of national plans, projects and activities that in addition of ensuring our national interest will benefit our region as well.
  • Mobilizing technical resources including our experts that will assess bottlenecks and ways to implement projects.
  • Establishing a monitoring framework that will supervise the implementation of our decisions by measuring how much we have improved the lives and welfare of our people, and design our plans accordingly.
  • Mobilizing further financial resources and financing of national and regional projects through SAARC development fund, particularly to member states in need of immediate assistance.

Mr. Chairman
Cooperation in the area of transfer of energy is an important component of successful regional cooperation that ensures a “win-win” situation. In this regard, I would like to underline the crucial importance of two regional projects for the security and prosperity of our people, they are:

  • CASA 1000 aimed to transfer 1300 MGW electricity energy from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and
  • TAPI – the pipeline aimed to transfer natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.

I would like to take this opportunity to stress on the nee of our coherent efforts and to encourage the international financial institutions such as ADB and WB to provide the needed funds for the successful implementation of these projects to promote growth and development in our region.
Mr. Chairman
The realization of SAARC decisions and successful regional cooperation can be achieved only through strong political well. Without political well and determination our noble ideas will remain merely as beautiful dreams.
Today, we have to acknowledge that certain bilateral issues exist that are impeding speedy progress and slow down the implementation of our decisions. I would like to underline the need to overcome such differences and make regional cooperation a base for mutual benefit and sincerity that will have a win-win outcome to all parties and everyone will benefit from it.
Before concluding, let me thanks Secretary General for his comprehensive report. I would like to extend my government support and endorse recommendations he seeking the Council of Ministers approval for and in the SG I would like to make the following announcements:
1 – We are considering hosting one or two SAARC gathering during 2009. We will inform member countries on the details through diplomatic channels.
2 – We have begun ratification of the SAARC various instrument. Our cabinet approved the SAARC Charter and the SAARC Food Bank Agreement and submitted them to the parliament for approval. The process of other SAARC documents is well under way.
Thank you Mr. Chairman

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