Tue, 26 May 2020

Islamabad [Pakistan], April 9 (ANI): Pakistan on Thursday pledged USD 3 Million towards the SAARC COVID-19 emergency fund.

This came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's video conference on March 15 with SAARC leaders.

While the SAARC countries immediately responded to a united call for the South Asian Association for Regional Corporation's (SAARC) COVID-19 emergency fund, Pakistan made its contributions today.

Pakistan in a release said, "While communicating Pakistan's decision to the SAARC Secretariat, it has been conveyed that all proceeds of the Fund should be administered by the SAARC Secretariat and that the modalities for the Fund's utilization should be finalized through consultations with the Member States as per the SAARC Charter."Through this, Pakistan has been angling to bring the coronavirus-related interactions under the formal SAARC umbrella by seeking to involve its secretariat in an attempt to get a free hand to block India's initiatives, Indian government sources said earlier today.

India has categorically said that any such measure directed towards tackling COVID-19 crisis in the region is a "standalone and outside the "SAARC calendar of approved activities", avoiding any procedural formalities that could prove to be constraints," as per the Indian government sources.

It is to be noted that the activities are under extraordinary circumstances to deal with the challenge in a result-oriented manner.

India had described these activities as being stand-alone and outside the "SAARC calendar of approved activities", they said.

Moreover, Pakistan on Wednesday did not take part in India-led South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) trade officials discussion saying such activities could only be effective if spearheaded by the SAARC Secretariat.

All other SAARC nations promptly donated to the COVID-19 emergency fund except Pakistan.

Afghanistan had contributed USD one million to COVID-19 Emergency Fund as per the discussions among the SAARC heads of nations, in a bid to collaborating and strengthening partnership to fight the pandemic.

Nepal had committed NPR 100 million to the SAARC emergency fund, Maldives government contributed USD 200,000 to the COVID-19 emergency fund. Bhutan has committed USD 100,000 to the SAARC emergency fundIndia has made an initial offer of USD 10 million for the fund. (ANI)

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