India responds to Pak offer for Saarc Covid-19 fund
India on Friday responded to Pakistan’s conditional decision to pledge $3 million to the Saarc Covid-19 Emergency Fund by saying each member of the grouping is free to decide the manner and implementation of its commitment.
Pakistan had on Thursday made a contribution to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s (Saarc) Covid-19 Emergency Fund on the condition that the facility be administered by the Saarc secretariat.
It was the last of Saarc’s eight members to contribute to the fund, which was created with an initial corpus of $10 million from India following a video conference of leaders of the grouping on March 15. Pakistan also proposed that the contribution be used in accordance with the Saarc Charter.
Responding to Pakistan’s position, external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said: “It is for each Saarc member state to decide on the timing, manner and implementation of their Saarc Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund commitments.”
He added, “Where India is concerned, the commitment made by the prime minister is today in an advanced stage of implementation. Assistance in material and services has been extended to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.”
The other members of Saarc have also “made early commitments to the Fund” and the “degree of seriousness of each nation can be gauged by their behaviour”, Srivastava said.
According to New Delhi, India’s engagements with Saarc members on Covid-19 related matters are stand-alone events, whereas Pakistan has sought to bring all issues under the Saarc secretariat in a bid to block Indian initiatives.
On Wednesday, Pakistan skipped a video conference of senior trade officials of the Saarc, saying it chose not to participate since the Saarc secretariat wasn’t involved in organising it.