South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries’ leaders on Sunday discussed a common strategy against the contagious disease on the video conference.
Dr Mirza was quoted as saying during a video conference, “It is a matter of concern that COVID-19 has been reported from Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and in view of health emergency, it is imperative that all lockdown in the territory must be lifted immediately.”
Dr Mirza also apprised the Saarc countries about the steps being taken by Pakistan to control the spread of coronavirus, which have been appreciated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well.
“Pakistan shares common concern over the potential of COVID-19 affecting South Asia. All our countries have confirmed cases. There is no room for any complacency. While hoping for the best we have to be prepared for the worst,” he said.
Among other measures, he proposed instituting exit screening by member states for travelers in the region, and instituting mechanisms for learning from the effective efforts of China, a SAARC Observer State, in containment and control.
He called upon the South Asian nations for a calm, calculated, and deliberate response to fight coronavirus but strongly advised against panic.
He highlighted Pakistan’s approaches and responses to the pandemic, underscored that Pakistan had been engaged in containment efforts from the outset of the outbreak.
Pakistan’s proactive strategy and containment efforts had been recognized and commended by the WHO, he added.
The idea for a video conference came from the Indian premier. He tweeted on March 14, “Working together is the best way to overcome this menace. The way ahead lies in : Collaboration not Confusion. Preparation not Panic. We have to fight this battle together, and we have to win it together. Our neighbourhood collaboration should be a model for the world.”
Regarding the closure of Afghan border crossing pointed out by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Zafar Mirza said it was a temporary measure in light of the WHO guidelines.
Earlier in Dec 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterates commitment to the Charter of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on 35th ‘SAARC Charter Day’ here on Sunday.
He said that Pakistan was a firm believer in the strength and potential of regional cooperation for individual and regional development.