New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, took the initiative to convene a SAARC meeting to fight the threat of COVID-19. The aim was to chalk out a common strategy to fight the infection in South Asia. However, the aim of unity and togetherness was lost on Pakistan, which raised the J&K issue and asked India to reduce the restrictions.
Narendra Modi had chaired the meeting with the all the leaders of the SAARC. He asked the member countries to be prepared together, act together and to succeed together.
He added,”Our people-to-people ties are ancient and our societies are deeply interconnected. Therefore, we must all prepare together, act together and succeed together.”
Modi also spoke about starting a $10 million fund for utilization by any of the member countries to fight the spread of infection.
The Prime Minister said, “Looking ahead, we could create a common Research Platform, to coordinate research on controlling epidemic diseases within our South Asian region. The Indian Council of Medical Research can offer help coordinating such an exercise… I propose we create a COVID-19 Emergency Fund. This could be based on voluntary contributions from all of us. India can start with an initial offer of 10 million US dollars for this fund.”
However, Pakistan raised the Jammu and Kashmir issue in the SAARC meet called to discuss about COVID-19. The Islamic nation said that all restrictions must be lifted in the region to deal with the infection.
Those who addressed the SAARC conference include, Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, , Bhutanese premier Lotay Tshering, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.