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MEA slams Pakistan for misusing SAARC platform by raising Kashmir during video-conference on coronavirus

India on Thursday slammed Pakistan for raising the Kashmir matter during SAARC video-conference on coronavirus. Addressing a press conference, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) asserted that the humanitarian platform was misused by Pakistan by taking up a political matter. "Platform was not political, but humanitarian; they misused it," said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

The MEA also announced that the emergency SAARC fund proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to combat the COVID-19 has been operationalised, adding that India has received requests from member countries for assistance. He added that crisis of this magnitude does not recognise borders and so in this spirit, the PM had called the SAARC video-conference on coronavirus.

Speaking on the evacuation of Indians across several nations the MEA explained that the situation in Iran is very severe but the government has evacuated 590 people from there. "Our mission is in complete control and are in operation. In the time to come, we will evacuate the rest of the people," added the MEA.

On evacuation in Kish Island, the MEA said, "Due to lockdown, the access was difficult and now the mission has reached them."

It added, "Italy is in lockdown and it's difficult for Indians to contact the mission. We have evacuated from Milan and we have tested the Indians there and large numbers are negative. Care has been taken to separate negative and positive cases and things are in control and they are recovering."

"It's important to study the challenges faced by each region and best practises should be emulated. We are operating under tremendous local challenge. The mission officials have to follow the local guidelines also," further added the MEA.

"The Ministry is strengthening the Covid Control room. Right now 25-30 people are working in the control room. They work in shifts. We are getting about 400 e-mails and 1000 calls in a day," said Dammu Ravi, AS & Coordinator COVID-19, MEA.

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