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India slams Pak for raising Kashmir issue during SAARC conference

India slammed Pakistan on Thursday for raising Kashmir during a SAARC video-conference earlier this week, saying Islamabad “misused” the occasion as it was not a political platform, but a humanitarian one. A Pakistan Minister had called for an immediate lifting of the “lockdown” in J&K.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called for the SAARC nations’ video-conference to formulate a joint strategy to combat the coronavirus in the spirit that a crisis of this magnitude did not recognise borders.

Asked about Pakistan using the occasion to raise Kashmir, he said, “We believe that the platform was to bring the countries of the region together to address the pandemic. This was not a political platform, but a humanitarian one, and Pakistan misused it.”

During the video-conference on Sunday, Pakistan’s State Minister of Health Zafar Mirza called for an immediate lifting of the “lockdown” in Jammu and Kashmir to allow virus containment measures.

Apart from Mr. Mirza and Prime Minister Modi, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, Bhutanese premier Lotay Tshering, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had participated in the video-conference.

“Equity in health is a fundamental principle of public health. In this regard, let me say that it is a matter of concern that COVID-19 has been reported” from Jammu and Kashmir and in view of the health emergency, it is imperative that all “lockdown” there must be lifted immediately, Mr. Mirza had said.

“Opening up communication and movement would facilitate dissemination of information, allow distribution of medical supplies and allow containment…to proceed unimpeded,” the special assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister on health had said.

Government sources had earlier said Pakistan’s attempt to “politicise” a humanitarian issue by its “unwarranted” statement on Kashmir during the video-conference on coronavirus reflected “very poorly” on it.

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