‘Can gauge seriousness’: India’s stinging comeback to Pak over Covid-19 Fund
Each Saarc member state can decide on the timing, manner and implementation of their Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund commitments, India said on Friday in response to Pakistan’s pledge of $ 3 million for the fund proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Islamabad’s confirmation about its pledge, however, was accompanied with a rider that the fund should be administered by the Saarc secretariat and be utilised in consultation with member states.
“It is for each SAARC Member State to decide on the timing, manner and implementation of their Saarc COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund commitments. Where India is concerned, the commitment made by the Prime Minister is today in an advanced stage of implementation,” Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs, said.
“Assistance in material and services has been extended to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. These Saarc countries have also made early commitments to the Fund. The degree of seriousness of each nation can be gauged by their behaviour,” Srivastava said.
Pakistan was the last of Saarc’s eight members to contribute to the fund, which was created with an initial corpus of $10 million provided by India following a video conference of leaders of the grouping on March 15.
“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,” a statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Office had said.
“Pakistan’s perspective in this regard was also conveyed during a telephone conversation between Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and Secretary General Saarc Esala Ruwan Weerakoon, today,” it had added.
Pakistan had on Wednesday skipped a video conference of senior trade officials of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), saying it chose not to participate since the Saarc secretariat wasn’t involved in organising it.