NEW DELHI: On Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative, all the SAARC countries are going to hold a video conference on Sunday evening to draw a joint roadmap to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the region.
On Friday, Modi had tweeted that the leadership of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, should come together to chalk out a strong strategy to fight the coronavirus outbreak. He had suggested that all the leaders should hold a meeting to discuss the issue through video conferencing.
All the SAARC members have accepted the proposal, the Ministry of External Affairs said. Official sources said that Modi and leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka will participate in the video conference at 5 p.m. on Sunday. However, instead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, his special assistant on health affairs will participate in the meeting.
The initiative assumes significance because since 2016, SAARC has been mostly inactive. Modi had refused to attend the 2016 SAARC summit which was to be held in Islamabad, following the Uri terror attack perpetrated by Pakistani terrorists. After Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan also withdrew from the meet, the summit was called off.
SAARC summits are held biennially and are hosted by the member states in alphabetical order. The last summit was held in 2014 at Kathmandu. However, Sunday's video conference, though without Imran Khan, will break the ice.