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'Seriousness Can Be Gauged By Behaviour': MEA On Pak's SAARC COVID-19 Fund Contribution

The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said that it is up to every SAARC member to decide on timing, manner and implementation of their SAARC COVID-19 fund.

COVID-19

The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said that it is up to every SAARC member to decide on timing, manner and implementation of their SAARC COVID-19 fund. This comes as a response to Pakistan's pledge of USD 3 million to COVID-19 Emergency fund with a condition that it should be used in accordance with the SAARC Secretariat.

"It is for each SAARC member to decide on timing, manner & implementation of their SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund commitments. Where India is concerned, the commitment made by the Prime Minister is in an advanced stage of implementation. Assistance in material and services has been extended to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan,  Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. These SAARC countries have also made early commitments to the COVID19 Fund.The degree of seriousness of each nation can be gauged by their behaviour"

READ | Pakistan contributes to SAARC Covid fund proposed by PM Modi, skips trade official meet

After skipping SAARC meet chaired by India stating that SAARC Secretariat should lead it, Pakistan on Thursday pledged to contribute $3 million to the Coronavirus Emergency Fund proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  The Foreign Office of Pakistan in a statement 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 utilisation should be finalised through consultations with the Member States as per the SAARC Charter." 

READ | SAARC health professionals meet to discuss coronavirus measures postponed

SAARC meet initiated by India

Prime Minister Modi on March 15 in a video conference on forming a joint strategy to fight Covid-19 in the SAARC region, proposed the emergency fund and asserted that the best way to deal with the coronavirus pandemic was by coming together, and not growing apart. Subsequently, Nepal and Afghanistan pledged $1 million each, Maldives committed $ 200,000, Bhutan $100,000, Bangladesh $1.5 million and Sri Lanka pledged $5 million to the fund. Founded in 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation and geopolitical union of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

READ | SAARC trade officials agree to work on larger framework for boosting intra-region trade

SAARC meet with trade officials 

In a video conference skipped by Pakistan, trade officials of the SAARC countries broadly agreed to identify new ways to "sustain and expand" the intra-regional trade to offset the huge economic cost of the coronavirus pandemic. The officials also deliberated on creating a larger framework of trade facilitation and highlighted the need to enhance the quantum of intra SAARC trade as the pandemic is likely to have a considerable impact on the region, the Ministry of External Affairs said. The deliberations took place as a follow up to an India-initiated video conference of SAARC leaders on March 15.

READ | Petty Pakistan skipped India-led SAARC Covid meeting citing 'Secretariat didn't spearhead'

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