India on Thursday slammed Pakistan after the country on Sunday used the SAARC nations video conference on coronavirus to raise the issue of Kashmir, with State Minister of Health Zafar Mirza calling for the immediate lifting of the "lockdown" there to allow virus containment measures.
In a press briefing on COVID-19 , MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "A crisis of this magnitude does not recognise borders. In this spirit, the Prime Minister had called the SAARC video-conference on coronavirus. The platform was not political, but humanitarian. They misused it."
Apart from Mirza, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, Bhutanese premier Lotay Tshering, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, participated in the video conference.
The underlying message of the video conference was unitedly taking on the pandemic, but Pakistan used the occasion to raise Kashmir issue, with Mirza calling for the "lockdown" to be lifted in Jammu and Kashmir to deal with the coronavirus threat.
"Equity in health is a fundamental principle of public health. In this regard, let me say that it is a matter of concern that COVID-19 has been reported" from Jammu and Kashmir and in view of the health emergency, it is imperative that all "lockdown" there must be lifted immediately,
"Opening up communication and movement would facilitate dissemination of information, allow distribution of medical supplies and allow containment...to proceed unimpeded," Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister on Health Mirza said.
Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its "internal matter". New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi slammed Pakistan on Sunday for raising Kashmir during the SAARC nations' video-conference on coronavirus, saying the country deserved to be "quarantined" by the global community.
"Pakistan can't stoop lower than this. During a humongous humanitarian crisis, it sends a junior minister for SAARC meeting of heads of state. Then raises Kashmir issue in the meeting out of nowhere. Pity," Singhvi said in a tweet.
#Pakistan cant stoop lower thn this. During a humongous humanitarian crisis, it sends a junior minister for #SAARC meeting of heads of state. Then raises #Kashmir issue in the meeting out of nowhere. Pity..— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) March 15, 2020
deserves 2be #quarantined by the global community.#SAARCfightsCorona
According to the data by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the total number of positive cases of COVID-19 in India stands at 167 which includes 25 foreigners. So far 4 people have died in India because of the deadly virus.
(With PTI inputs)