Ankara, 29 May 2016:  Pakistan has reaffirmed its abiding support and solidarity for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and renewed its long-standing commitment to take all possible measures to help them achieve progress in their priorities and development needs. The reaffirmation came during the  Mid-Term Review of Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) for LDCs hosted by Turkey at Antalya from 27-29 May 2016.

Ambassador of Pakistan to Turkey Sohail Mahmood led the Pakistan delegation at the conference, attended by high-level representatives of LDCs, developing countries, development partners, and UN and its relevant agencies.

During his address, Ambassador Sohail Mahmood expressed appreciation for Turkey on its steadfast support for promoting the cause of the LDCs and for organizing the midpoint review of the 10-year Istanbul Programme of Action adopted in 2011. He noted that the IPoA was a landmark framework for development, centered on the overarching goal of overcoming the structural challenges faced by the LDCs to eradicate poverty, achieve internationally agreed development goals, and enable half of them to graduate from the LDC category by the year 2020.

Ambassador Sohail Mahmood highlighted that some LDCs had been able to make considerable progress on these priorities, lifting people out of poverty, and reaching milestones on education, health and other areas. He, however, mentioned that majority of LDCs still faced formidable challenges in their efforts to improve socio-economic conditions of their people. Around 50 percent of the 900 million people in LDCs were still living below the poverty line. Majority of the LDCs were not able to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The LDCs as a group were suffering from economic slowdown, with declining growth rates since 2014. The structural challenges and constraints limited their productive capacities, export base, and possibilities of graduating from the LDC category.

Ambassador Sohail Mahmood underlined that the Mid Term Review was timely as it was being held in the immediate backdrop of historic agreements reached in 2015 on the global development process including Agenda 2030 on SDGs and Paris Agreement on Climate Change. To support the LDCs at this crucial juncture, he emphasized the importance of building implementation synergies between IPoA and these landmark agreements.

Ambassador Sohail further stressed the need for reaffirmation of enhanced international support to LDCs, strengthening of global development partnership, fulfillment of international commitments regarding ODA, and greater trade and investment flows through improved market access. Equally important would be to advance progress in identified priority areas related to productive capacities, social and human development, resilience building, institutional capacity, and governance, he remarked.

Ambassador Sohail Mahmood briefed the participants about Pakistan’s Technical Assistance Programme, designed to assist capacity-building in LDCs. He added that Pakistan was working to further deepen trade and investment relations with LDCs, informing that duty free access was offered to some of the LDCs in the region on items of interest to them. He particularly mentioned  Pakistan’s Programme for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in Afghanistan, which was initiated with a financial commitment of US$ 385 million in 2002, and scaled up to US$ 500 million in 2013. It primarily focused on infrastructure, education, health and technical capacity-building, he added. The Ambassador underlined Pakistan’s commitment  to spare no effort within its means to support the cause of LDCs.