Pakistan to participate in SAARC video moot on coronavirus today
Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD: The government has said that it will participate in a video conference of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) leadership to combat the coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 5,000 people globally.
In a tweet posted late Friday night, the Foreign Office (FO) – while responding to a proposal by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling for a “strong strategy” to combat COVID-19 – said that Pakistan “will be available to participate in the video conference of #SAARC member countries on the issue”.
“The threat of #COVID-19 requires coordinated efforts at [the] global and regional level. We have communicated that SAPM on Health will be available to participate in the video conference of #SAARC member countries on the issue,” FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said.
Farooqui’s response came hours after Prime Minister Modi extended his offer. “I would like to propose that the leadership of SAARC nations chalk out a strong strategy to fight Coronavirus. We could discuss, via video conferencing, ways to keep our citizens healthy. Together, we can set an example to the world, and contribute to a healthier planet,” he had tweeted.
Various media reports observed that Prime Minister Modi’s offer was unexpected given the fact that his government has tried to sideline the regional organisation on multiple occasions. The annual SAARC meeting is in limbo for five years now due to India’s refusal to attend a meeting in Pakistan. According to the SAARC charter, its member states should meet “once a year or more often as and when considered necessary by the members”.
The development is seen as significant as the two neighbours have little or no channels of communication for over a year now. However, it remains unclear how India would respond to Pakistan’s offer.
Earlier on Thursday, the FO spokesperson had also said Pakistan was “ready to cooperate and extend any assistance to its neighbours including India” to deal with the coronavirus.
The number of coronavirus in Pakistan and India is low but there is a threat of a rise in the infected people. India already confirmed that two people died because of coronavirus while the number of cases in Pakistan rose to 33, though, no death has been reported yet.