At discussion on coronavirus, Pakistan raises J&K

Shubhajit Roy
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Zafar Mirza, State Minister of Health of Pakistan, during the video-conference with SAARC leaders on Sunday. (Source: ANI)

PAKISTAN ON Sunday raised the issue of lockdown in J&K as its representative at the SAARC leaders’ videoconference on combating coronavirus said the Covid-19 cases in J&K are a “matter of concern”and asked for opening up of communication that will facilitate dissemination of information and allow medical supplies.

Indian government sources said Pakistan tried to “politicise” a humanitarian issue and it is a “churlish approach”. “This is humanitarian issue, Pakistan tried to politicise humanitarian issue,” sources said.

Read | SAARC neighbours spell out plan to fight coronavirus: Satellite classes to closed borders

This was the first time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with a leader from Pakistan after the special status of J&K was revoked in August 2019.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses SAARC leaders on coronavirus on Sunday. (Source: ANI)

Pakistan PM’s special assistant on health, Zafar Mirza, who participated at the video conference, said, “We hope that during this emergency, our member countries will provide access to emergency assistance to all the regions in our countries. Because equity in health is a fundamental principle of public health.”

“In this regard, let me say that it is a matter of concern that Covid-19 has been reported from J&K. And in view of the health emergency, it is imperative that all lockdown in the disputed territory must be lifted immediately, opening up communications and movement would facilitate dissemination of information, allow distribution of medical supplies and enable containment and relief efforts to proceed unimpeded.”

Mirza called it a “constructive and insightful discussion”. “We need to take a proactive approach. We should not wait for emergencies to happen and outbreaks to take place and then to start our preparations,” he said.