ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Esala Ruwan Weerakoon held a telephone conversation on Thursday, and underlined the need for joint efforts to deal with the situation arising out of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.
During the conversation, both the foreign minister and the SAARC secretary general discussed the challenges faced by South Asian States in the face of the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Congratulating Mr. Weerakoon on assuming responsibilities as the 14th Secretary General of SAARC, Shah Mahmood Qureshi assured him of Pakistan’s full support and expressed the hope that under his experienced stewardship, the SAARC process would be able to move forward.
The foreign minister underscored that being a founding member, Pakistan remained committed to the SAARC process and considered it an important platform for regional cooperation. He reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to host the SAARC Health Ministers’ Meeting and suggested that due to the prevailing global health emergency a video conference could be organized.
The SAARC secretary general appreciated Pakistan’s proposal of Health Minister’s video conference.
Qureshi also reiterated that the proposed SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund may be placed under the supervision of the Secretary General of SAARC and that the modalities for the Fund’s utilization be finalized through consultations among Member States.
Dilating upon the economic impact of COVID-19 on the developing world, Foreign Minister Qureshi highlighted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call for debt restructuring of the developing countries to enable them to dedicate resources towards saving human lives and shoring up economies.
The foreign minister reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to work closely with the SAARC Secretariat and SAARC Member States to realize the common goal of accelerating economic growth and promoting the welfare of the people of South Asia.