ISLAMABAD: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has baked Pakistan’s suggestion for health ministers to meet over a video conferencing on the issues of the global pandemic.
Secretary General SAARC Esala Ruwan Weerakoon on Thursday appreciated Pakistan’s proposal in a statement over the telephone conversation between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and himself. Both agreed on the need for joint efforts for fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Pakistan has been pushing the idea of SAARC health ministers on the pandemic since India hosted a video conference of the SAARC leaders on March 15. Mr Qureshi has reached out to all Saarc counterparts except those from India and Afghanistan on this issue.
Pakistan is seeking clarity about the utilisation of the SAARC Fund for Covid-19, which had been set up on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal, and has been demanding for it to be placed at the disposal of the SAARC secretary general. All countries in the regional bloc, except Pakistan, have announced their pledges for the fund, which now cumulatively stands at $18.8 million.
“The Foreign Minister also reiterated that the proposed SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund may be placed under the supervision of Secretary General of SAARC and that the modalities for the Fund’s utilisation be finalised through consultations among member states,” the foreign office said.
According to the foreign office, Qureshi has assured the SAARC of its cooperation towards accelerating economic growth and promoting the welfare of the region.