ISLAMABAD -  Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Friday said that India was impeding the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) process as Islamabad remained committed to the regional body.

The adviser said that Pakistan was looking forward to welcoming the Saarc leaders for the 19th Summit that was scheduled in Islamabad last November, but was postponed when India impeded the Saarc process and violated the spirit of the organisation’s charter.

“Pakistan remains committed to hosting the 19th Saarc Summit at Islamabad at the earliest so that the objectives of regional cooperation under the Saarc umbrella can be pursued more vigorously,” he said, while talking to Arjun Bahadur Thapa, the outgoing Saarc secretary-general, here.

Thapa is on a visit to Pakistan.

Tensions have been on the rise ever since the killing of a Kashmiri freedom fighter, Burhan Wani, by the Indian forces in July, and an attack on an Indian military camp in held Kashmir in September that resulted in the death of 19 soldiers.

In the recent months, Pakistan has been more positive, showing restrain along the Line of Control (LoC) and by speaking about the dialogue process.

Aziz also participated in the Heart of Asia Conference in December, despite India’s decision to skip the Saarc summit in November.

The Saarc meeting was eventually postponed after other countries also walked away.

At the Heart of Asia Conference too, India launched attack on Pakistan accusing it of “promoting terrorism.”

During the meeting with the outgoing Saarc Secretary-General Aziz reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to regional cooperation under the umbrella of the organisation for promoting welfare of the people of South Asia, improving their quality of life, economic progress, social uplift and cultural cooperation.

The adviser said that due to several impediments and challenges, the Saarc had been unable to fulfil the vision that was laid out for it by its founding members.

He believed that the Saarc Secretariat could play an important role as a catalyst to bring all the member states together and ensure timely and effective implementation of programme and activities that would benefit the region.

Saarc secretary-general emphasised the need to overcome the difficulties that the organisation faced and expressed the hope that the 19th Saarc Summit would be held in Islamabad as soon as possible.

Earlier, Thapa also held a meeting with Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry.

The foreign secretary appreciated Arjun Bahadur Thapa’s contributions to the SAARC process and reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to the objectives of the organisation.

Chaudhry also emphasised that internal and bilateral problems of member states must not be allowed to affect the organisation, and that 19th Saarc Summit should be held as soon as possible to put the whole Saarc process back on track.

Thapa who hails from Nepal, is the 12th secretary-general of the Saarc.

He completed his tenure on February 28th, after which Amjad Hussain Sial, former special secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan is to take charge as the new secretary-general of the SAARC.

Later, on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Syed Zulfiqar Gardezi, Additional Secretary (Asia Pacific) hosted a lunch for the secretary general, which was attended by Amjad Hussian Sial, secretary general-elect of the Saarc.