Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday expressed hope that the "hiatus" created in SAARC's continuous progression would be removed and said his country was a firm believer in the strength and potential of regional cooperation.
In his message on the 35th SAARC Charter Day, the prime minister said December 8 marks the day when leaders with vision and foresight adopted the SAARC Charter and pledged to work together for the progress and prosperity of South Asia.
"This day reminds us of the enormous responsibility placed on our shoulders by our peoples, and their expectations from their leaders to address the common challenges of poverty, illiteracy, disease and under-development," he said.
Khan said Pakistan was a firm believer in the strength and potential of regional cooperation for individual, national and regional development.
"Pakistan believes that effective and result-oriented regional cooperation can be achieved only by adhering to the cardinal principles of sovereign equality and mutual respect as enshrined in the SAARC Charter," Khan was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Pakistan Foreign Office.
The prime minister reiterated Pakistan's commitment to the SAARC process and expressed hope that the hiatus created in its continuous progression would be removed, enabling the SAARC nations to forge ahead on the path of regional cooperation for development and to achieve their full potential, it said.
SAARC summits are usually held biennially and hosted by a member state in the alphabetical order. The last SAARC Summit was held in Kathmandu in 2014.
The 2016 SAARC summit was to be held in Islamabad. But after the terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18 that year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to "prevailing circumstances".
The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet.
On December 8, 1985 at the first SAARC Summit in Dhaka, the leaders of the seven South Asian states - the Maldives, India, Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - signed a charter to establish the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Afghanistan became the eight SAARC member in 2007.
SAARC Charter Day is commemorated every year to mark the signing of this Charter.