Pak FM urges regional cooperation to stop pandemic

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has stressed the need for regional countries’ cooperation to stop the Covid-19 pandemic from further spreading.

Qureshi made the remarks on Thursday while addressing a meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Council of Ministers via video link, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Although Pakistan may have controlled the pandemic within its boundaries, we believe that a regional approach is needed to stop the spread of Covid-19 and save lives and livelihoods of the people of South Asia,” Qureshi said.

He said for an effective regional approach and regional coordination, Pakistan hosted the SAARC Health Ministers’ Video Conference in April to develop a regional response to fight the pandemic that also provided an opportunity for all member states to learn from each other’s successes and experiences.

“Pakistan has been successful in containing and controlling the virus by following a comprehensive strategy of smart lockdowns, tests, tracing and quarantine,” Qureshi said.

The Minister said that the pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of healthcare systems around the world, particularly in the developing countries, adding that it is a challenge as well as an opportunity to remodel and develop medical systems.

“Our common challenges including global health pandemic, food insecurity, locust invasion and climate change need a regional approach.

“For that, SAARC needs to renew its focus on these challenges so that it can be institutionally better prepared to counter these challenges should they arise in future,” he added.

Currently the worst-affected South Asian country by the coronavirus pandemic is India. With 5,732,518 cases, it accounts for the send highest number of infections in the world.

The country’s death toll stands at 91,149, the third highest globally.

In terms of cases in the SAARC region, Bangladesh comes in second with 355,384, followed by Pakistan in the third place with 309,015.

Nepal has reported a total of 69,301 cases, Afghanistan 39,170, Maldives 9,939, Sri Lanka 3,333, and Bhutan 261.