Pakistan stays away from pandemic meeting hosted by India

Published April 9, 2020
Islamabad urges Saarc role; India takes forward its proposal for setting up Covid-19 emergency fund. — AFP/File
Islamabad urges Saarc role; India takes forward its proposal for setting up Covid-19 emergency fund. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Wednesday said that Pakistan stayed away from the regional trade officials’ video conference on Covid-19 hosted by India because it had not been managed by the secretariat of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).

“Activities such as today’s Trade Officials’ Video-Conference could only be effective if spearheaded by the Saarc Secretariat. Since the Saarc Secretariat was not part of today’s Video-Conference, Pakistan chose not to participate,” the FO said while explaining Pakistan’s absence from the conference.

Islamabad urges Saarc role

Trade officials of all Saarc countries, except Pakistan, held a video conference on Wednesday to discuss the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on intra-regional trade and effect of travel restrictions. The meeting was a follow-up to the Saarc leaders’ video conference held last month in which PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza represented Pakistan.

Moreover, India has taken forward its proposal for setting up of Covid-19 Emergency Fund. All member countries have pledged contributions to the fund except Pakistan, which has been insisting that the Fund be placed under the control of the Saarc secretary general and modalities for its utilisation should be transparently decided.

The FO reiterated its commitment to Saarc and emphasised that the role of bloc’s Secretariat “assumes further salience in emergency situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic, and its wider social and economic fallout”.

“As in the case of other regional and international organisations, Saarc Secretariat also provides the requisite convening platform, institutional framework and support structure for essential coordination and follow-up,” FO maintained and added that the Saarc Secretariat must be enabled to play its due role in any event or activity being organised under its auspices.

Pakistan has, meanwhile, been trying to organise a video conference of the health ministers of Saarc countries on the pandemic. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has discussed the proposal for the conference with his counterparts from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Maldives and Saarc Secretary General Esala Ruwan Weerakoon. He is yet to engage India and Afghanistan on it.

India has been actively working to sideline Pakistan from Saarc since forcing postponement of the bloc’s 19th summit in 2016, which was to be held in Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2020

Opinion

Editorial

Punjab crisis
01 Dec, 2022

Punjab crisis

ADMINISTRATIVE chaos has ruled Punjab ever since the ouster of the PTI government in April, deepening the...
Quetta attack
01 Dec, 2022

Quetta attack

It would be foolishness of the highest order were the authorities to ignore the emerging threat.
World AIDS Day
01 Dec, 2022

World AIDS Day

AS countries mark World AIDS Day on Dec 1, a timely report from Unicef has renewed concerns about the severe...
A call for bloodshed
30 Nov, 2022

A call for bloodshed

The state has wasted precious time by not consolidating its success in pushing TTP out of its strongholds in the north.
Missing childhoods
30 Nov, 2022

Missing childhoods

THE fact is that despite some legal efforts to end the curse of child marriage taking place in Pakistan under the...
Unemployment concerns
30 Nov, 2022

Unemployment concerns

THE ILO finding that labour market recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan, as in many other...