ISLAMABAD - At its closing day, Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA) in its Sixth Plenary Conference on Tuesday affirmed the inalienable right of every country to acquire, develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under IAEA safeguards.

“We affirm the inalienable right of every country to acquire, develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under IAEA safeguards, including access to civil nuclear technology without discrimination,” says the Islamabad Declaration issued at the end of the APA Conference.

Members of the APA, elected representatives of the people of Asia from 41 member and 17 observer countries, who gathered in Islamabad from 8 to 10 December for the APA Sixth Plenary Conference, unanimously issued the ‘Islamabad Declaration’. APA in the declaration resolved to work in unison to promote cooperation and solidarity among Asian nations so that a collective vision and will is demonstrated to combat in a concerted manner the complex challenges that Asia faces in the ‘Asian Century.

The declaration recognised the legitimate right to self-determination of all people under foreign occupation. It condemned all kinds of foreign occupation, interference in internal affairs and violations of territorial integrity and state sovereignty, be it through drone attacks, spying or telephone tapping, invasion or covert operations, which are not in compliance with the civilised conduct of interstate relations based on the rule of law.

The declaration considered foreign occupation, terrorism and extremism as evils saying that terrorism and extremism have no religion nor any national boundaries, since these are enemies of humanity, which need to be condemned universally and combated collectively as these are common threats, and underline the need to remove their root causes.

The member countries resisted all attempts to threaten the use of force or the actual use of force to resolve disputes among nations. It called upon all parties in the Syrian conflict to agree to a ceasefire and to promote political dialogue.”

The Sixth Plenary Conference expressed faith in building a just and equitable economic order, that provides sustainable development, with fruits of progress benefiting the marginalized, the deprived, the minorities, women and youth, and all sections of society.

It recognised regional economic cooperation as an important pillar of promoting peaceful development and sharing prosperity, underlining the need for trade, commerce, investment, special economic zones, economic corridors, roads, railways and promoting energy cooperation.

It expressed strong commitment to pursue corruption-free politics and promote accountability in a transparent manner upholding the rule of law.

It rejected any form of prejudice, bigotry, bias, racism, xenophobia or Islamophobia, or discrimination on the basis of caste, class, religion, gender or ethnic origin.

The Islamabad Declaration expresses strong desire to promote dialogue among civilisations as well as strengthen inter-faith harmony and cooperation. The APA Conference sought to promote the path of peace and reconciliation as the way forward for Asia in the ‘Asian Century’.

Earlier, addressing the plenary session of APA at its closing day, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif stressed greater connectivity among the Asian countries for their mutual development and prosperity.

The prime minister said the Asian countries had to shed the burden of the past and learn to look to the future. The APA hosted by Senate of Pakistan, ended on Tuesday with nearly 300 delegates’ participation from 30 countries.

Prime Minister Sharif said Pakistan had tried to turn a new page with all its neighbours and was prepared to look at the larger picture. He said the country had reached out to both Afghanistan and India. He said in an Asian century, an opportunity would be witnessed for South Asia to join the other Asian engines such as China and the ASEAN.

“I firmly believe in the Asian century. I also believe that this will happen earlier and last longer, if South Asia also makes its proper contribution to this development,” PM remarked.

On the occasion, Acting President and President of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari said that the agenda of Asian Parliamentary Assembly was based on cooperation and friendship which would further help in strengthening democratic values and traditions to promote regional and global peace.

He said that the 6th APA plenary was monumental both in terms of quantitative and qualitative improvements in its history as it brought together an unprecedented display of Asian unity and wisdom under one roof besides touching upon important issues and areas critical to achieving Asian Century vision. He said the APA would evolve into a common parliamentary platform of Asia, much like the European Parliament. He stated that this APA plenary also took into account the need for broadening APA’s scope and outreach beyond the Asian continent.

As the new President of APA, Nayyer Bokhari said that he would try to translate the understanding and commitments at parliamentary level into actions and policies.

Chairman of the organising committee of Asian Parliamentary Assembly Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed observed that the APA would promote regional and links among the Asian States and participation of 230 delegates from 31 countries reflects that Pakistan is a vibrant and dynamic democracy and desires to progress by enhancing its regional and economic cooperation. He said that Pakistan was an important player in the region and APA would help in enhancing regional linkages. Senator Mushahid further stated that the current government had the vision to enhance regional cooperation with all the Asian countries and the recent visit of the Prime Minister to various Asian nations was reflective of the fact.