Lockdown in J&K must be lifted: Pak at SAARC conference on COVID

New Delhi: Pakistan on Sunday raised the Kashmir issue during a video conference with leaders of SAARC nations, saying that it is imperative that the lockdown in the region be lifted in view of the health emergency amid coronavirus outbreak.

Lockdown must be lifted immediately: Pak

“It is a matter of concern that COVID-19 has been reported from Jammu and Kashmir. In view of the health emergency, it is imperative that all lockdown in the territory must be lifted immediately,” Zafar Mirza, Pakistan’s State Minister of Health, said at a video conference with leaders of the SAARC nations on COVID-19.

“Opening up communications and movement will facilitate the dissemination of information, allow distribution of medical supplies, and enable containment and relief efforts to proceed unimpeded,” he said.

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Restrictions have been imposed in Jammu and Kashmir following the Indian government’s move to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution that accorded special status to the region.

Mirza said that no nation and region can afford to be unresponsive to the threat of coronavirus.

“With over 155,000 infections, 5,833 deaths and 138 countries involved, no nation and no region on the earth can afford to be unresponsive, least of all SAARC, which is home to one-fifth of humanity and several of the world’s largest megacities and many of the most densely populated regions,” he said.

The Minister said that Pakistan shares the common concern over the potential of the pandemic affecting South Asia.

“All our countries have confirmed cases. There is no room for any complacency. While hoping for the best we have to be prepared for the worst,” he said.

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Preventive measures taken by Pak

Mirza said that Pakistan has decided to close all its educational institutions for three weeks, its western border for two weeks, banned all public gatherings, and restrict international flights to three airports.

The video conference had been proposed by Prime Minister Modi with an aim to chalk out a joint strategy to combat coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking during the conference, Modi proposed the creation of an emergency fund for the SAARC nations to combat the coronavirus pandemic and pitched India’s initial offer of USD 10 million for this fund.

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