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SAARC summit: Pak wants a dispute free South Asia, says Sharif

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Kathmandu (Nov. 26, 2014): While addressing the heads of the SAARC nations, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday stressed on the need of a dispute-free south Asia where the member countries would fight poverty, disease and illiteracy. He also called for a dispute free south Asia and said that focus of the countries should be on building "bonds of trust".

"We need bonds of trust so we can prosper," he said, also offering to host the next South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Pakistan.

Speaking at the two-day summit, he said, "Pakistan attaches high importance to SAARC. More than a fifth of the population is between the ages of 15-24 but attracts only three per cent of the world's foreign direct investment and is one of the lowest integration area. Therefore, we must reach out to create a win-win situation."

He also called for steps to integrate with the economy and build trade surplus as well as promote cultural connectivity and build a common identity. People-centred policies can also reduce poverty and empower vulnerable groups such as women, he added.

Sharif said all south Asian countries are vibrant democracies and called on them to share their experiences, best practices and institutional linkages for sustainable development. "The underdevelopment of south Asia is closely linked to lack of affordable energy. We need to collectively focus on harnessing indigenous energy as well as trans-regional gas and fuel pipelines.