ISLAMABAD (APP) – Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has said Pakistan is playing a key role in the economic development of the South Asian region and to attain the dream of possible regional integration.

He was addressing the inaugural session of the 8th meeting of Finance Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries at a local hotel.

“Pakistan looks forward to hosting the 19th Saarc Summit at Islamabad on Nov 9-10 and help take the organisation forward,” PM Nawaz told the Saarc meet in the capital city.

He stated that Pakistan believes in regional development through the platform of SAARC as it was the way forward for peace in the region.

Pakistan, he added, would continue to play its part to fulfil hopes of the people of the region.

Nawaz said promoting welfare of the people of South Asia was the thinking behind the organisation.

The region had abundant human and natural resources, with one-fifth of the humanity and untapped opportunities for the development of the region, he added.

He said the social charter of the organisation was the real way forward and his country would support all initiatives by SAARC in this regard. He also urged greater role of the organisation in the health and education sectors.

The Prime Minister welcomed the delegates to Islamabad and hoped they would come up with useful recommendations to make the organisation more viable and effective.

He hoped the deliberations of the conference on Custom, double taxation, economic and financial cooperation would make the SAARC a reality and give it more meaning.

The Finance secretaries of the SAARC member countries had met here Thursday to finalise agenda for the Ministerial conference.

The event was attended by Finance Ministers, Secretaries, heads of respective State Banks, senior officials and diplomats.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar welcomed the delegates and called for the intensification of efforts for greater collaboration for the betterment of the people of the region and to make SAARC a successful regional organisation.