With the threat of coronavirus looming large over South Asia, all SAARC countries, barring Pakistan, have committed to the ”SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund” proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his video conference with leaders of the region on 15 March.

Modi had then offered an initial contribution of $ 10 million from India to the fund which would be at the disposal of all SAARC countries — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives — to confront the challenge posed by the pandemic.

Bangladesh today announced that it was earmarking $ 1.5 million for the fund while Sri Lanka set aside $ 5 million for it. Even Afghanistan, with its limited resources due to the prolonged war against terrorism, announced a contribution of $ 1 million to the fund.

Prime Minister Modi had on Friday taken to twitter to thank the governments of Maldives, Nepal and Bhutan for their contributions to the SAARC fund.

“Gratitude to @PMBhutan Dr. Lotay Tshering for his decision to contribute $100,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund on behalf of the Bhutanese Government. It is wonderful to see SAARC leaders taking initiatives that are adding strength to the collective fight against Coronavirus,” Modi had said in a twitter post.

“Deeply appreciate PM @kpsharmaoli’s announcement of contribution of NPR 10 crores (approximately $ 1 million) to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund. It reflects Oli Ji’s commitment and support to the collective fight of SAARC countries against the pandemic,” Modi said in another post on Nepal’s contribution.

The tiny island of Maldives has announced a contribution of $ 2 million to the fund, which too was duly appreciated by the Indian leader.

Pakistan is the only SAARC nation which has so far not announced any contribution to the fund. The 15 March video conference was not attended by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. He had nominated his Special Adviser on Health Zafar Mirza to participate in it.

Mirza, in fact, misused the SAARC platform to raise the Kashmir issue by asking India to lift the lockdown there, much to the dismay of the SAARC leaders participating in the video conference.