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Pakistan says yes to Modi’s call, will attend SAARC video conference on coronavirus tomorrow

Islamabad has said Prime Minister Imran Khan's Special Assistant on health, Zafar Mirza, will participate in the video conference

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New Delhi: Amid heightened bilateral tensions with India, Pakistan has said it will participate in the eight-nation SAARC’s video conference proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to jointly combat the coronavirus outbreak.

On Saturday, Islamabad said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Special Assistant on health, Zafar Mirza, will participate in the video conference. All SAARC leaders, except Khan, will be part of the video conference.

“The threat of #COVID-19 requires coordinated efforts at global and regional level. We have communicated that SAPM on Health will be available to participate in the video conference of #SAARC member countries on the issue,” Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson Aisha Farooqui tweeted.

Government sources told ThePrint that the conference will be held tomorrow.

Also read: MEA appoints COVID Coordinator to streamline global efforts on coronavirus

SAARC nations welcome move

After PM Narendra Modi took an initiative Friday to deal with the coronavirus outbreak via a video conference, leaders of the other nations in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) responded positively.

Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, who has been urging New Delhi for a while to revive SAARC, hailed the decision.

Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering lauded Modi for his “leadership”, adding that as a small country, it believes in the regional grouping’s significance.

While Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A.K. Momen said this was a “good proposal”, Afghanistan’s ambassador to India Tahir Qadiry referred to it as a “timely” call.

Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa Gotabaya, who had pushed for revival of SAARC during his maiden visit to India as the President last November, said, “Let’s unite in solidarity during these trying times and keep our citizens safe.”

Proposal could revive SAARC engagement

PM Narendra Modi is likely to have taken this step now keeping in mind that New Delhi will host the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit later this year, for which it intends to invite Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The video conference proposal comes amid India’s refusal to actively participate in SAARC after the September 2016 Uri attacks. The SAARC leadership has not met since then.

The last SAARC Summit was held in November 2014 in Kathmandu. The next summit, which was scheduled to take place in November 2016 in Islamabad, was postponed amid tensions between India and Pakistan over the attack on a military camp in Uri.

Also read: Modi govt wants to give Pakistani Hindus Indian citizenship, but not visa for last rites

This report has been updated to add the conference’s date and details of the participation of SAARC leaders.

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  1. How wonderful for The Print and the author to be able to highlight that their good and virtuous country of “Pakistan Said Yes,” thus proving Pakistani goodness and virtuosity. Whereas, in fact, all SAARC leaders will attend but Pak will send only its “special assistant for health.” Nevertheless, let The Print rejoice for a moment.

  2. This is time to save mankind. That’s why PM Shri Narendra Modi recall the SAARC summit. Its great thing that all we have to appreciate. He never think only his official duty as a Nation’s interest. He showed India’s great culture ”VISHWA KA KALYAN HO”.

  3. Our PM Modiji taken a step forward meeting in video conference with other members how to fight jointly with Corona virus to provide safety to people of countries of SAARC members and to give a message to World we are peace abiding and love our all neighbours and can fight with deadly COVID 19 with co-operation with SAARC Government Heads and draft means how we can make it possible.PM Modiji has taken a bold step through this disease an inspirational message of love to all.Let all to live in peace,a highest humanitarian approach and fight together with this disease and provide safety to all human beings.

  4. Wonderful. Covid 19 is an immediate emergency. There are others, like climate change and the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, where the countries of the subcontinent need to work together. I have always believed that an India not at peace with its neighbourhood can never emerge as a major, credible power.

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