Ambassador Sohail Mahmood speaks at the meeting for mid-term review of Istanbul Programme of Action on Sunday.—APP
Ambassador Sohail Mahmood speaks at the meeting for mid-term review of Istanbul Programme of Action on Sunday.—APP

ANKARA: Pakistan has reaffirmed its abiding support and solidarity for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and renewed its long-standing commitment to take all measures to help them achieve progress in their priorities and development needs.

The reaffirmation came during the mid-term review of Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) for LDCs hosted by Turkey at Antalya from May 27 to 29.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Turkey Sohail Mahmood led Pakistani delegation at the conference, which was attended by high-level representatives from developing countries, development partners, and the UN and its relevant agencies, said a message received here on Sunday.

In his address, Ambassador Mahmood appreciated Turkey for its steadfast support to the promotion of LDCs and for organising the review meeting of the 10-year Istanbul Programme of Action adopted in 2011. He noted that IPoA was a landmark framework for development, centred on the overarching goal of overcoming the structural challenges faced by the LDCs to eradicate poverty, achieve internationally agreed development goals, and enable half of them to graduate from the LDC category by 2020.

Mr Mahmood said that some LDCs had been able to make considerable progress on these priorities, lifting people out of poverty, and reaching milestones on education, health and other areas. He, however, pointed out that majority of the LDCs still faced formidable challenges in their efforts to improve socioeconomic conditions of their peoples. Around 50 per cent of the 900 million people living in the LDCs were still living below the poverty line. Majority of the LDCs were not able to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The LDCs as a group were suffering from economic slowdown, with declining growth rates since 2014. The structural challenges and constraints limited their productive capacities, export base, and possibilities of graduating from the LDC category.

The ambassador underlined that the mid-term review was timely as it was being held in the immediate backdrop of historic agreements reached in 2015 on the global development process, including Agenda 2030 on SDGs and Paris Agreement on Climate Change. To support the LDCs at this crucial juncture, he emphasised the importance of building implementation synergies between the IPoA and these landmark agreements.

He stressed the need for reaffirmation of enhanced international support for the LDCs, strengthening of global development partnership, fulfilment of international commitments regarding ODA, and greater trade and investment flows through improved market access. Equally important would be to advance progress in identified priority areas related to productive capacities, social and human development, resilience building, institutional capacity, and governance, he remarked.

Mr Mahmood briefed the participants about Pakistan’s Technical Assistance Programme, designed to assist capacity-building in the LDCs. He said that Pakistan was working to deepen trade and investment relations with LDCs, adding that duty-free access has been offered to some of the LDCs in the region on items of interest to them.

He particularly mentioned Pakistan’s Prog­ramme for Reconstruction and Rehabili­tation in Afghanistan, which was initiated with a financial commitment of $385 million in 2002, and scaled up to $500m in 2013. It primarily focused on infrastructure, education, health and technical capacity- building, he added. The ambassador underlined Pakistan’s commitment to sparing no effort within its means to support the cause of the LDCs.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2016