ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday rejected Indian allegation of politicising Saarc leaders’ video conference on Covid-19 by calling for an end to communication blockade and lockdown of occupied Kashmir as “misleading and mischievous”.
In a statement, the Foreign Office said that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs attempted to twist remarks made by the Minister of State for Health Dr Zafar Mirza at the Covid-19 Video Conference of Saarc member countries on March 15.
Dr Mirza, while participating in the conference, had said it was a matter of concern that Covid-19 had been reported from Jammu and Kashmir and in view of the health emergency, it was imperative that the lockdown there must be lifted immediately.
“Opening up communication and movement would facilitate dissemination of information, allow distribution of medical supplies and allow containment and relief efforts to proceed unimpeded,” he further said.
Reacting to Dr Mirza’s statement at the conference, Indian External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Raveesh Kumar said: “We believe that the platform was to bring the countries of the region together to address the pandemic. This was not a political platform, but a humanitarian one, and Pakistan misused it.”
FO says entire world has called for an end to lockdown in Kashmir
The FO statement said that Pakistan was not alone in calling for an end to communication blockade and lockdown and numerous voices from within occupied Jammu and Kashmir, India, and the world have also called for the same.
Pakistan, the FO said, participated in the video conference to show solidarity with Saarc members and reaffirm its abiding commitment to the Saarc process.
The people of South Asia are well aware as to which country has been seeking to “politicise” the Saarc process and continues to obstruct its onward march, the FO statement reminded.
The statement underscored that Pakistan believed the collective endeavours of South Asian nations to fight common challenges should not be allowed to become victim of self-serving propaganda.
Pakistan, it said, had reaffirmed its readiness to host Saarc Health Ministers’ Conference.
Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2020