Pak tried to politicise humanitarian issue by raising Kashmir at SAARC event: Govt sources

New Delhi, Mar 15 (PTI) Pakistan's attempt to 'politicise' a humanitarian issue by its 'unwarranted' statement on Kashmir during the SAARC nations video conference on coronavirus reflected 'very poorly' on it, government sources said on Sunday.

The underlying message of the video conference was unitedly taking on the virus, but Pakistan used the occasion to raise the Kashmir issue, calling for immediate lifting of the 'lockdown' there to allow disease containment measures.

Pakistan chose to be 'churlish' and used the video conference for political point scoring, the sources said.

Pakistan sent their State Minister of Health Zafar Mirza who was uncomfortable while speaking, they said.

Pakistan raising the matter reflected 'very poorly' on their dealing with the humanitarian issue, the sources said.

'Raising the issue was unwarranted and out of context. Pakistan attempted to politicise a humanitarian issue,' a government source said.

India could have kept Pakistan out of the video conference, but as it was a humanitarian issue, the country was invited, the sources said.

'Every leader responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call, but Pakistan chose to send its health minister which reflected its lack of seriousness,' the source said.

Even Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli participated a day after he was discharged from hospital, but Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan chose to stay away, the sources said.

When Pakistan raised the issue, nobody responded, the sources said.

On whether the video conference was indicative of a possible revival of SAARC process, sources said it was too premature to talk in those terms.

Apart from Mirza, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, Bhutanese premier Lotay Tshering, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, participated in the video conference.

Mirza called for the 'lockdown' to be lifted in Jammu and Kashmir to deal with the coronavirus threat.

'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 Jammu and Kashmir and in view of the health emergency, it is imperative that all 'lockdown' there must be lifted immediately, 'Opening up communication and movement would facilitate dissemination of information, allow distribution of medical supplies and allow containment...to proceed unimpeded,' Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister on Health Mirza said. PTI MPB ASK ASK RT RT