Pakistan wakes up, says India’s growth crucial for SAARC’s success

Abdul-BasitSignalling a turnaround in Islamabad’s attitude towards the India story, Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit has underscored that India should continue to achieve higher growth rate and termed the country a major driving force in the success of entire South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries.

“If India rises, confidence of the entire region rises. We in South Asia do believe that India does have a wherewithal and resolves to step to the plate and ensure that it achieves its economic goals, because if India rises we are confident the entire region will rise with India,” said Mr Basit at a meeting organized by industry body ASSOCHAM in New Delhi on March 30.

The envoy also stressed on the importance of creating a level playing field among the members of SAARC, and said that economic development shouldn’t be muted in the political noise.

Speaking about the SAARC’s political and economic coordination, he said: “This is especially true in the context of our region where politics often drums economics … In my view these two constitute the warp and woof of modern economic diplomacy.”

He was particularly impressed with India’s current and future economic growth. Recently, the Asian Development Bank had predicted India’s GDP to grow at 7.8 percent in 2015-16 and 8.2 percent in 2016-17, overtaking China’s 7.2 percent and 7 percent during the same period.

“So we are looking forward to work hand in hand with other SAARC members to achieve our shared objectives,” Basit added.

He added that by the next SAARC summit in Islamabad, the SAARC will successfully achieve all its targets. Both the countries will work together with a shared target of alleviating poverty.

The envoy’s remarks reflected a new mood of cautious optimism in India-Pakistan relations that has been since Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar to Islamabad to explore the possibilities of reviving engagement that had languished after New Delhi had cancelled the foreign secretary-level talks in August last year on grounds of the Pakistani envoy’s meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders. However, signaling a change in stance, New Delhi did not make an issue of the Pakistan envoy inviting separatist leaders at the Pakistan National Day celebrations except by reiterating that there is no place for the third party in the dialogue process.

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