Pakistan pledges USD 3 million to SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund
Islamabad, Apr 09: Pakistan on Thursday pledged to contribute USD 3 million to the SAARC Coronavirus Emergency Fund proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an initial offer of USD 10 million from India to help combat the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic in the region.
The Foreign Office in a statement said Pakistan's perspective on the utilisation of fund was conveyed during a telephone conversation between Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and SAARC Secretary General Esala Ruwan Weerakoon.
"While communicating Pakistan's decision to the SAARC Secretariat, it has been conveyed that all proceeds of the fund should be administered by the SAARC Secretariat and that the modalities for the fund's utilisation should be finalised through consultations with the Member States as per the SAARC Charter," it said.
In a video conference on forming a joint strategy to fight COVID-19 in the SAARC region, Prime Minister Modi on March 15 proposed the emergency fund with an initial offer of USD 10 million from India and asserted that the best way to deal with the coronavirus pandemic was by coming together, and not growing apart.
Subsequently, Nepal and Afghanistan pledged USD 1 million each, Maldives committed USD 200,000, Bhutan USD 100,000, Bangladesh USD 1.5 million and Sri Lanka pledged USD 5 million to the fund.
Founded in 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation and geopolitical union of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Apart from Modi, Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepalese Prime Minister Oli, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza, had participated in the video conference.
The Foreign Office in the statement said being a founding member, Pakistan considers SAARC an important platform for regional cooperation. "Pakistan remains committed to the SAARC process and will continue working with the Member States to strengthen regional cooperation," it said.