The leaders of eight Muslim countries Thursday witnessed inking of the D-8 Charter at the conclusion of the day-long summit, aimed at forging stronger economic alliance amongst the member states.The foreign ministers of the participating countries; Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey signed the document that promises a dynamic roadmap to boost their trade to an ambitious $500 billion by 2018.The signing ceremony at the President House was witnessed by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Egyptian Deputy President Mahmoud Makki, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Bangladeshi Advisor to Prime Minister for International Affairs Professor Gowher Rizvi.The leaders of Developing-8 called for practical measures to enhance trade, visa liberalisation, closer cooperation between private sectors, operationalisation of PTA and free flow of goods in a bid to strengthen their economies.There was a general understanding amongst the leaders for the need of strengthening and widening the scope of economic cooperation, while ensuring transparency so that they are able to address the threats of poverty, illiteracy and slow growth.They urged opening of banks, investment ventures, free flow of goods, services and people, joint investment fund, Islamic banking and investment, small and medium enterprises and regional connectivity.The Islamabad Declaration also called for creating a cooperation framework to achieve a long-term energy security, including nuclear energy. The Leaders of the D-8 adopted a historic 35-point Islamabad Declaration, emphasising the need for using all means, including nuclear energy, for peaceful purposes for economic development through public-private partnership.The summit also adopted a long overdue charter of the organisation and D-8 Global Vision. All the three documents were, however, based on pledges and commitment, so no significant decisions could be announced from the forum.The leaders in the declaration stressed the importance of collaborative efforts on capacity building, transfer of technology, exploration of new energy resources, development of alternative fuels, including renewable sources of energy, as well as research, development and production of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. They also welcomed Pakistan’s offer to host the first energy forum to evolve a framework of cooperation.It pledged to work in solidarity to confront the common challenges faced by the D-8 countries, especially achieving food security, mitigating the impact of natural disasters and countering all forms of extremism which undermine economic progress and negatively affect the livelihood of the people.In an apparent reference to the unilateral sanctions against Iran, the D-8 leaders noted with concern the consequences of the coercive economic measures on the livelihood of the people.It agreed on commitment of the leaders of D-8 for creating a level-playing field for all segments of the society, particularly for the youth, to learn modern skills to become participants in the emerging knowledge-based economy and information society. It emphasised the need for scientific and technological cooperation and the development of joint industrial projects and sharing of engineering and management knowledge, with the D-8 centres of excellence at the forefront of the collaborative effort.The declaration, while recognising the role of Islamic banking and finance in the Muslim societies, including the D-8 community, urged the member states to assist in its development as a catalyst for expansion in financial and trade activities.The summit welcomed the ratification of the agreement on simplification of visa procedures for the businessmen of the D-8 member states by six members and ratification of multilateral agreement on administrative assistance in customs matters by seven members and the entry into force of the two agreements. These agreements would give impetus to the promotion of intra D-8 trade. They also welcomed the ratification of Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) by six members and the efforts towards its implementation. They asked all the countries which have not yet ratified the three agreements to do it as soon as possible.The participating leaders expressed serious concern over the growing challenges to food security at global, regional and national levels and asked the member states to develop strategies towards promoting sustainable agricultural growth.The key objectives of the D-8 Charter include promotion and enhancement of joint efforts towards achieving socio-economic development through effective utilisation of potentials of the D-8 countries, alleviate poverty and improve quality of life, strengthen economic, social, technical and scientific ties and promote private sector activity in the D-8 countries. Addressing the summit, President Zardari emphasised need for setting up trade and development banks; facilitating contacts between chambers of commerce and investment houses, simplification of visa and customs procedures and barter trade.He urged the members of the D-8 to endorse once again the core values of D-8; that include peace, dialogue and cooperation, justice, equality and moderation, democracy, rule of law and harmony, and peaceful co-existence and inclusion.He said most of D-8 countries have already ratified the PTA and there was need to operationalise it without delay.The President said D-8 countries represent a huge untapped reservoir that can serve as a catalyst for peace and prosperity around the world.The President said, “We must grow our economies, and provide our people with jobs and security.” He said the D-8 has the potential to advance this agenda. He expressed the hope that the initiatives being declared at this Summit will make a difference.About the D-8 Charter, signed on Thursday, the President said it will cement the joint undertakings. He said the D-8 Global Vision will be a giant step forward towards achieving long term objectives and the Islamabad Declaration will build upon the roadmap.He urged the members of the D-8 to endorse once again the core values of D-8; that include peace, dialogue and cooperation, justice, equality and moderation, democracy, rule of law and harmony, and peaceful co-existence and inclusion.The President said D-8 countries represent a huge untapped reservoir that can serve as a catalyst for peace and prosperity around the world.He said “Our people want peace within the country and peace with our neighbours.”He said Pakistan is making unprecedented efforts to normalize relations with India and supports Afghanistan’s own roadmap for peace and reconciliation. This is the vision of a democratic people that seek peace and prosperity, he added.The President said one of the most serious threats facing Pakistan is international terrorism, adding that terrorists, both from within Pakistan, and from abroad, seek to impose their agenda.“We cannot and will not allow Islam to be hijacked and will fight for our values and will fight for the spirit of our great religion that our Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) gave to use,” he added.President Zardari said “We are fighting the terrorists’ dark and destructive vision every day. Our soldiers, policemen and political workers serve on the front lines of this fight.”He thanked the outgoing Chairman of D-8, President of Nigeria, for his leadership of the organisation during the last 2 years. He said today the D-8 is not just eight developing countries but all the eight countries have democracy.He said “We always shared common bonds of religion and culture. We are also bound, by the will and spirit of our people.”President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposed setting up of a joint investment fund, barter transactions and operationalisation of the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between the Developing-8 member states.The Iranian President called for a more serious effort towards creation of a fair and equitable economic system, particularly amongst the member states so as to counter the external influences.He said barter trade between the member states would help them counter the impact of a “dominant currency”, while enhanced cooperation between their private sectors would help intra D-8 trade.The Iranian President said the member states had rich natural resources, mineral deposits, energy and talented manpower and there was a need to exploit these resources for their mutual benefit.Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said joint projects among the member states of Developing-Eight (D-8) countries was the only way to make a dynamic move towards prosperity. He said it was time for D-8 countries to pursue the sustainable development. Erdogan said economic development ensures security, peace and prosperity and urged the D-8 countries to make efforts towards achieving this goal. He called upon the D-8 members to resolve their conflicts which could hamper their progress. He said the organization should make it’s voice effective so that it could emerge as a globally effective power.Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said joint projects among the member states was the only way to make a dynamic move towards prosperity.In his address, the Turkish prime minister said it was the time for D-8 countries to pursue the global vision of prosperity and long-term sustainable development.Erdogan said economic development ensures security, peace and prosperity and urged the D-8 countries to make efforts towards achieving this goal. He mentioned that the trade volume of Turkey and the D-8 countries was growing and termed it significant for all member countries.He called upon the D-8 members to resolve their conflicts which could hamper their progress. He said the organisation should make its voice effective so that it could emerge as a globally effective power.He also stressed enhancing mutual contacts among the D-8 countries for the benefit of their nations.Erdogan thanked President Zardari and the government of Pakistan for warm hospitality during his stay in Islamabad. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said D-8 countries have potential to play a bigger role in providing new impetus for economic growth and keeping the world stable and peaceful.Addressing the conference, he urged that D-8 countries must sustain their growth momentum as they have the potential to make progress in diverse sectors of the economy.He noted that intra D-8 investment increased by four percent in 2011 and stressed that countries in the grouping need to make progress on implementing the trade agreements made before.More trade will provide more jobs and increase purchasing power of people thus raising their standard of living, he added.Earlier, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan explained achievements during the last two years under his chairmanship. He said the volume of trade was enhanced to the highest possible level during this period.He said enforcement of trade agreements among the member states was the major success of the D-8. Likewise, ratification by almost all the member states of Preferential Trade Agreement and Visa Facilitation was an important success. In his opening remarks, the Nigerian president said Pakistan had played an active role in the D-8, which was appreciable. He said adoption of various documents in Islamabad was a tribute to the vision of leaders of the D-8 countries. Later‚ he handed over the chairmanship of the D-8 to President Asif Ali Zardari for the next two years. D-8 Secretary General Widi Pratikto, in his report, paid appreciation to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan for his wise participation in the activities of the D-8. The other leaders also addressed the summit meeting. Turkey will host the next D-8 summit in 2014.