Pak Defends Raising Kashmir At SAARC Moot Over Coronavirus

Pakistan''s State Minister of Health Zafar Mirza speaks during the SAARC conference.

Islamabad - Pakistan on Friday defended its action to raise the Kashmir issue during the SAARC nations'' video-conference on the coronavirus pandemic and rejected as "misleading" India''s assertion that Islamabad tried to "politicise" a humanitarian issue by its "unwarranted" statement.

Pakistan''s State Minister of Health Zafar Mirza during the conference on Sunday called for an immediate lifting of the "lockdown" in Kashmir to allow virus containment measures.

Indian government sources in New Delhi said the neighbouring country''s attempt to "politicise" a humanitarian issue by its "unwarranted" statement on Kashmir during the video-conference reflected "very poorly" on it.

Responding to India''s assertion, Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement that Mirza had drawn attention to the health emergency in Kashmir in the context of the coronavirus and underscored the need for lifting of restrictions on communications and ensuring access to medical supplies.

In making this call, Pakistan has not been alone as numerous voices from within Kashmir, India, and the world are echoing the same message, the FO said.

"The Indian contention of ‘politicisation’ of humanitarian issue is both misleading and mischievous," it said.

The FO said Pakistan’s participation in the video conference aimed at showing solidarity with SAARC members and reaffirming Pakistan''s abiding commitment to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (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 FO said.

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", it said.

"As an illustration of Pakistan’s commitment, we have reaffirmed our readiness to host the SAARC Health Ministers’ Conference at the appropriate time," the FO said.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue, but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution is its "internal matter". New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.


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