Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, center, inspects a guard of honor after his arrival in Addu, Maldives.—AP

ADDU, Maldives: Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani Thursday assured Pakistan's full support to make South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) a more effective organisation.

Addressing the 17th SAARC summit here at Addu Atoll, Gilani said there was a need to rationalise and consolidate the SAARC activities for the benefit of the people of the region.

He said the gap between the promise of the organisation and reality of its accomplishment needs to be bridged.

The premier also emphasised the need for effective implementation of decisions taken in the previous summits.

Referring to the theme of the summit “Building Bridges”, he said: “We should build on convergence, minimise divergences and most of all seek to augment complementarities for the greater good of the people of this region.”

He said the theme reflects common desire for promoting mutual understanding and reaching out to each other to create win-win scenarios.

He said it resonates with SAARC's avowed goal to enhance intra-regional connectivity by 2020.

He said South Asia has the potential to become an important engine for global economic growth and that it has all the necessary ingredients in terms of human and natural resources to work the economic miracle of this century.

Gilani said time has come for the organisation to lead the way in a historic transformation of region.

He said South Asia is unique in many ways, adding “we must place our people at the centre of the SAARC processes.”

He said, “We must enable SAARC to capture the imagination of our peoples and contribute to creating strong mutually beneficial bonds as this alone will assure a glorious future of peace and prosperity.”

He said interfaith and inter-culture harmony must find special emphasis in SAARC's programmes and interactive process in this domain will contribute to reveal the beauty and strength of a true South Asian identity.

Gilani said, “Pakistan completed its democratic transformation and is now well on its way to realising democracy's dividends by pursuing development at the grass roots level.”

The premier said, “We must strengthen regional cooperation through sharing of experiences, best practices and establishing institutional linkages.”

The government of Pakistan, he said, has prioritised poverty reduction and has taken major initiatives including social safety nets.

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