Video conference arranged by India not part of SAARC Secretariat: Foreign Office

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office has clarified Pakistan’s position for not participating in a video conference of trade officials on COVID-19 epidemic arranged by India as it was not part of SAARC Secretariat.
A press statement issued by Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said Pakistan believed being a founding member that South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) gives an imperative platform for regional cooperation.
The spokespersons said the role of the SAARC Secretariat assumes further salience in emergency situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic, and its wider social and economic fall-out.’
The statement further said “As in the case of other regional and international organizations, SAARC Secretariat also provides the requisite convening platform, institutional framework and support structure for essential coordination and follow-up.”
She clarified and said the activities such as Wednesday’s video-conference of trade officials could only be effective if spearheaded by the SAARC Secretariat. “Since the SAARC Secretariat was not part of today’s Video-Conference, Pakistan chose not to participate.”
FO spokesperson said “In order for the SAARC process to move forward, the SAARC Secretariat must be enabled to play its due role in any event or activity being organized under SAARC auspices.”
‘At a time when the region is facing unprecedented challenges, all the available institutional frameworks must be optimally utilized’.
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