India pledged $10 million toward a Covid-19 emergency fund and said it was putting together a rapid response team of doctors and specialists for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) nations as part of an initiative led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, APA reports citing India times.
Modi made the announcements during a video-conference with Saarc leaders that he had proposed amid rising cases of the disease in the region. While India’s offer was welcomed by all Saarc leaders, Pakistan used the occasion to raise the Kashmir issue, saying the lockdown there should be ended to help fight the coronavirus outbreak. Islamabad also sought to get China involved in the Saarc initiative.
The Indian PM suggested that nodal experts of all Saarc states meet in a week’s time by video-conference to take forward the ideas exchanged at Sunday’s discussion.
“I propose we create a Covid-19 emergency fund,” the Prime Minister said. “This could be based on voluntary contributions from all of us. India can start with an initial offer of $10 million for this fund. Any of us can use the fund to meet the cost of immediate actions. Our foreign secretaries, through our embassies, can coordinate quickly to finalize the concept of this fund and its operations.”
He urged the seven nations to fight the scourge jointly.
“We can respond best by coming together, not growing apart--collaboration not confusion, preparation not panic,” he said after the leaders of six countries and Pakistan’s health minister presented their views on challenges in their respective countries and their preparedness to combat the disease.