Islamabad Declaration on economic cooperation in
Asia at the end of two-day fourth ministerial conference of Asian
Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) reflects the single point agenda of the
Asian countries to promote peace and prosperity by collective
utilization of the opportunities of globalization in Asia.
The four-page document emphasizing the destiny of
the people of Asia, as of the world is inextricably linked, was the
outcome of the efforts of the ministers and other heads of delegation
from 26 member countries of the ADC.
It said that Asia is a vast continent with immense
resources and the ACD is determined to build up its rich civilization
and utilize the economic complementarities in its common pursuit for
ensuring a peaceful and prosperous future for Asia and the world.
The inaugural session of the conference was
addressed by the visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime
Minister Shaukat Aziz. The ACD was the brainchild of Thailand
government which mooted the idea in 2002. Its second meeting was also
held in Thailand. The third conference was held in China in June 2004,
where it was decided that the 4th meeting will be held in Pakistan.
Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri while
elaborating the progress on the ACD front said that Saudi Arabia and
the Russian Federation were accepted as members of the ACD at the
meeting he had chaired.
The meeting also agreed to adopt the Islamabad
initiative. He said the Islamabad Declaration recognized that Asia
economies face common challenges in terms of energy scarcity, poverty
and financial instability, and agreed to promote ways and means to
overcome these challenges through cooperation and sharing of
However, he said, in future the criteria for
admission into the ACD would be changed and the club would contemplate
as to what the new criteria should be as requests from many countries
have flooded in for admission. "Pakistan is a founding member for
the ACD which is now a club with responding success. "We are now
contemplating how to develop its infrastructure and which regions
should be represented. We have to devise a method before admitting
more members," he said explaining future ACD program.
Kasuri said the outcome of the 4th ACD ministerial
meeting — Islamabad Declaration and the Islamabad Initiative —
would strengthen the foundation of movement towards the vision of
common Greater Asia neighborhood or Asian Community. "It agreed
that Asia must consist of peaceful societies cooperating with each
other in harmony in diverse fields for their common good, progress,
prosperity and happiness of their peoples," Kasuri read from a
In his keynote address to the ACD Premier, Mr. Wen
Jiabao has reiterated China's sincere adherence to the path of
peaceful development. He has assured trustworthiness of China and as a
reliable partner of its Asia counterparts. He emphatically dispelled
the impression that strong and more developed China will pose any
threat to other countries. Mr. Wen stressed on multidimensional
cooperation to achieve win-win results, as China believes that all
outstanding issues need to be handled through consultation and
accommodation. Mr. Wen focused China's role as "responsible
country in fending off the Asia financial crisis — combating SARS
epidemic and relief to tsunami victims in the Indian Ocean.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in his inaugural
address dilated upon Pakistan's unique position to play pivotal role
for enhanced economic interaction in Asia. "Pakistan is located
at the crossroads of Central Asia, South Asia and South East Asia and
as a member of SAARC and ECO, the Islamic Republic offers the shortest
land route to the sea for land locked Central Asia and Western China
for exports from Karachi, Port Qasim and Gwadar."
The Prime Minister stressed on 11 points strategy
focuses on promotion of required synergies to achieve the partnership;
ACD should promote trade not aid strategy, goals of the ACD should
Free Trade Agreement (FTA); encouragement of investment in an enabling
environment; ensuring collective program and infrastructure reforms;
creation of corridors for multi-lateral cooperation in energy, trade,
transportation and tourism; promotion of public private partnership;
encouragement of institutionalized cooperation; help each other in
ensuring sustainable development of social harmony by addressing
inequalities; and encouragement of scientific research and utilization
of technologies and creation of knowledge-based society.
The Prime Minister emphasized that Pakistan wants
peaceful and amicable solution of all outstanding issues with India
including Kashmir. Pakistan is a country of opportunities and a
valuable partner to realize the Asia miracles ACD is a critical forum
to realize the goals of progressive, prosperous, peaceful and stable
ACD a Thai initiative is aimed to exchange views
and adopt a common strategy to achieve long-term peace and
development, consolidate the political will among Asian governments
and build an Asian bloc on the lines of EU through mutual
understanding on the basis of sovereign equality. Foreign Ministers of
26 member countries including Pakistan attended the 4th ACD
Ministerial Conference. India was represented by its State Minister.
ACD covers 18 areas of cooperation which include
energy, security, poverty alleviation, agriculture, transport
linkages, biotechnology, E-Commerce, infrastructure fund, E-Education,
Asian Institute of Standards. SMEs cooperation, IT development,
science and technology, tourism, working group on financial
cooperation, human resource development and road safety. Pakistan is a
prime mover of "Asian Institute of Standards" and cover in
agriculture with China and Kazakhstan and tourism along with Thailand,
Cambodia and Myanmar.
Asian undoubtedly needs greater cooperation in the
emerging unpredictable scenario. In Asian perspective, leading
statesmen such as former prime ministers Dr. Mahathir Muhammad of
Malaysia and Mr. Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore are the role models that
have helped their respective countries to achieve the higher goals.
The Asian countries cannot sit back to simple enjoy the heritage left
by the predecessors.
Asia — a continent of geographical and cultural
diversity but its rich natural resources can be effectively utilized
by developing a consensus to use these resources productively for the
benefit of the people of Asia.