Pakistan Only SAARC Nation Yet To Pay For Covid-19 Emergency Funds

Pakistan is the only member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) that hasn’t contributed to the Coronavirus Emergency Fund. 

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The fund, formed with an initial contribution of $10 million from India, was declared by PM Narendra Modi during a video conference of leaders of the eight SAARC nations on March 15.

So far, the other contributions to the fund include $1 million from Afghanistan, $1.5 million from Bangladesh, $100,000 from Bhutan, $200,000 from the Maldives, $1 million from Nepal, and $5 million from Sri Lanka.

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Pakistan wants the SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund to be administered by the bloc’s secretary-general and is seeking clarity about its utilisation. Islamabad has stated that nothing was said about the administration of the fund and modalities for its utilisation.

Pakistan, which had participated in the SAARC conference, was also expected to make a pledge, but after there is clarity on its management, a diplomat said. The SAARC fund was discussed during Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s telephonic conversation with his Bangladeshi counterpart A. K. Abdul Momen.

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“Discussing the need to share resources, it was emphasised that SAARC Covid-19 fund should be placed under the Secretary-General of SAARC and modalities for its utilisation should be finalised through consultations at the earliest,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Qureshi meanwhile reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to host SAARC health ministers’ conference to magnify collaboration among member nations and development partners in the health sector with a particular focus on Covid-19.