Pakistan on Thursday pledged to donate $3 million to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Coronavirus Emergency Fund that was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a video-conference on March 15. Pakistan was the only member that had not yet committed any contribution to the fund yet.
This came a day after Islamabad skipped a second video-conference held by representatives of the seven other member nations – India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
In a statement, the Pakistan Foreign Office said the country’s perspective on the decision to contribute was conveyed during a phone conversation between its 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,” the statement said.
During the first video-conference between SAARC countries, Modi had proposed the emergency fund, saying that India could initially offer of $10 million. He had asserted that the best way to tackle the pandemic was by uniting and not growing apart.
Following the conference, Nepal and Afghanistan had each pledged $1 million, Maldives had vowed to contribute $2,00,000, Bhutan gave $1,00,000. Bangladesh contributed $1.5 million and Sri Lanka committed $5 million to the fund.
Wednesday’s video-conference involved senior trade officials of all SAARC member nations except Pakistan, according to India’s Ministry of External Affairs. The members felt the pandemic was likely to have a considerably adverse impact on trade in the region, and to sustain and expand trade until normalcy returns, “new ways and means” should be “jointly identified”, the ministry said.
In the first video-conference held on India’s request in March, Pakistan was the only member nation that was not represented by its head of state or government.