In a significant development for the SAARC nations, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take part in a video conference tomorrow to evolve a joint strategy to fight the deadly coronavirus.
SAARC failed to hold any summit after 2014 due to tussle between India and Pakistan, as the last summit which was scheduled to take place in Pakistan’s Islamabad in 2016, was cancelled due to India’s withdrawal from it.
The 2016 Pathankot attack which was allegedly sponsored by Pakistan based intelligence agency, ISI, had resulted in India’s move.
However, in the scarcity situation which the planet is facing due to the contagious novel coronavirus, PM Modi yesterday urged the SAARC countries to come together the tackle the situation.
“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,” said PM Modi in a tweet.
“South Asia, which is home to a significant number of the global population should leave no stone unturned to ensure our people are healthy,” he added.
“Our planet is battling the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. At various levels, governments and people are trying their best to combat it. South Asia, which is home to a significant number of the global population should leave no stone unturned to ensure our people are healthy,” he added in another tweet.
The move was welcomed by every member nations including India’s neighbor Pakistan which became the root-cause of dilution of promising SAARC allies.
Bhutan Prime Minister and Sri Lankan President were among the first who welcomed PM Modi’s call.
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 immediate and impactful outcome. Looking forward to the video conference. https://t.co/2RnokAJQOs
— PM Bhutan (@PMBhutan) March 13, 2020
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. https://t.co/fAiT5w3O8D
— Gotabaya Rajapaksa (@GotabayaR) March 13, 2020
Pakistan also responded positively to Modi’s proposal, saying it was ready to participate in the conference, acknowledging that coordinated efforts were needed to minimise the threat posed by the deadly Coronavirus.
“We have communicated that SAPM (Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister) on Health (Zafar Mirza) will be available to participate in the video conference of SAARC member countries on the issue,” Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said in a tweet on Friday.
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.
— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) March 13, 2020
As of now, India has recorded 82 cases, the maximum number of coronavirus cases in the eight members SAARC nations. It is followed by Pakistan (20), Maldives (8), Afghanistan (7), Bangladesh (3), Sri Lanka (2), and Nepal and Bhutan one each.