ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday pledged $3 million towards the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s (Saarc) Covid-19 Emergency Fund — the brainchild of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The Government of Pakistan has pledged US$ 3 million towards the SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund to support regional efforts in the fight against Coronavirus,” the Foreign Office said in a statement after a telephonic conversation between Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and Saarc Secretary General, Esala Ruwan Weerakoon.
PM Modi had proposed the fund at the Saarc leader’s virtual summit on March 15. India pledged $10m for the fund, which was meant to assist the countries in the region to deal with the pandemic. Other pledges include $5m by Sri Lanka, Bangladesh $1.5m, Nepal and Afghanistan $1m each, Maldives $0.2m and Bhutan $0.1m.
Pakistan was the last member state to contribute to the fund, which now has pledges worth $21.8m.
Pakistan announced the pledge a day after it stayed away from another regional initiative proposed by PM Modi under Saarc umbrella — the meeting of the trade officials of the member countries to discuss the impact of the pandemic on intra-regional trade.
Pakistan’s reservations about the fund relating to its administration and utilisation remain unaddressed. Islamabad has been asking for the fund to be placed under Saarc secretary general and that the modalities for its utilisation be negotiated by the member states.
Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2020