Pak rejects Indian claim of ‘politicising’ SAARC tele-conference

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STAFF REPORTER ISLAMABAD Pakistan has rejected Indian allegations that it tried to politicise the humanitarian issue by raising Occupied Kashmir lockdown during the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries recently held tele-conference to discuss common strategy to fight the novel coronavirus. “The Indian Ministry of External Affairs attempts to twist the remarks made by Minister of State for Health Dr Zafar Mirza at the COVID-19 Video Conference of the Saarc member countries on 15 March 2020,” an official statement issued by the Foreign Office said on Friday. “It is a matter of concern that COVID-19 cases have been reported from IOK and in view of the health emergency, it is imperative that the lockeddown in the disputed territory must be lifted immediately,” Dr Mirza had said during the conference. “In making this call, Pakistan has not been alone. Indeed, numerous voices from within IOJ&K, India, and the world are echoing the same message,” the FO said while terming New Delhi’s claim “misleading and mischievous”. Pakistan’s participation in the tele-moot of Saarc member states on COVID-19 “was aimed at showing soli-darity with Saarc members and reaffirming our abiding commitment to the Saarc process”. The people of South Asia are well aware as to which country has been seeking to “politicise” the Saarc process and continues to obstruct its onward march, the communique added. “Pakistan believes that the collective endeavours of South Asian nations to fight common challenges should not be allowed to become victim of self-serving propaganda. As an illustration of Pakistan’s commitment, we have reaffirmed our readiness to host the Saarc Health Ministers’ Conference at the ap