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EFSAS comments on Pakistan's faux pas at SAARC COVID-19 video conference


Although it doubtlessly had been dictated by the Pakistani military establishment, the misplaced political remarks that the Pakistani junior health minister made at the video conference on COVID-19, the most inappropriate forum for such issues, also served to take the country’s image several notches lower among its SAARC co-members and the rest of the international community. In the midst of PM Modi announcing a COVID-19 Emergency Fund with an initial commitment of $10 million from India and proposing a disease surveillance portal as well as training of ‘medical response teams’ for SAARC countries, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani mooting the creation of a common framework in the region for telemedicine, and Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasizing on the need for the deliberations on COVID-19 to continue at the ministerial level as well as among health experts, and proposing cooperation among SAARC countries in the areas of testing, sharing strategies of information dissemination, and addressing the lacunae in medical infrastructure, the out of place Pakistani representative chose to make a political point on J&K.