Pakistan raises Kashmir during SAARC video-conference on coronavirus

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

Pakistan raised the issue of Jammu and Kashmir during a SAARC leaders' video conference over the coronavirus Sunday, saying all restrictions in the Union Territory should be lifted to deal with the threat posed by the infection.

Participating in the conference on behalf of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, State Minister of Health Zafar Mirza said, "It is a matter of concern that coronavirus has been reported from Jammu and Kashmir and in view of health emergency, it is imperative that all lockdown in the territory must be lifted immediately." Follow coronavirus outbreak LIVE Updates here

The video conference was attended by all eight SAARC nations on an initiative taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India has taken strong note of Pakistan's bid to politicise the initiative, sources close to the government said.

In his address, Mirza also said that no nation can afford to be unresponsive to the situation prevailing in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. He said the SAARC nations share common regional concerns on the pandemic and while "hoping for best, we have to prepare for worst".

"We believe that SAARC Secretariat does provide us platform that can bring us together and we believe that we need to use this platform for pooling of resources; technical expertise, national experiences and even financing that can be used by SAARC members," he said.

So far, Pakistan has recorded 53 positive cases of coronavirus.

In the conference, PM Modi proposed setting up an emergency fund by SAARC nations to fight the coronavirus. He also pledged USD 10 million initial investment to the fund from India.