A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for member-states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to come together against the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (nCOVID-19 or COVID), Pakistan’s foreign ministry stressed the need to make coordinated efforts on both regional and global fronts to combat this threat too. Sri Lanka and Bhutan have welcomed this initiative of Prime Minister Modi.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared COVID a global pandemic. The US has declared an emergency in view of the danger of coronavirus too.
A Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a tweet on Saturday morning, “The threat of #COVID-19 requires coordinated efforts at (the) 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.”
The Pakistani spokesman had earlier said that Pakistan was ready to help its neighbours. Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has held an emergency meeting to deal with COVID.
Prime Minister Modi on Friday had called upon SAARC countries to discuss how to deal with the epidemic. Modi said in his tweet, “I would like to propose that the leadership of SAARC nations chalk out a strong strategy to fight Coronavirus. We could discuss, via video conferencing, ways to keep our citizens healthy. Together, we can set an example to the world, and contribute to a healthier planet.”
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka are the member countries of SAARC. According to the Ministry of Health, so far 83 cases of COVID have been reported in India. Kerala has the highest number of 19 cases while Maharashtra has reported 14 cases.
Prime Minister of Bhutan has appreciated the idea floated by Prime Minister Modi. Quoting Prime Minister Modi’s tweet, he said, ” This is what we call leadership. As members of this region, we must come together in such times. Smaller economies are hit harder, so we must coordinate. With your leadership, I have no doubt we will see (an) immediate and impactful outcome. Looking forward to the video conference.”
President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa responded with a positive message too. He tweeted, “Thank you for the great initiative Shri @narendramodi – #LKA is ready to join the discussion & share our learnings & best practices and to learn from other #SAARC members. Let’s unite in solidarity during these trying times and keep our citizens safe.”