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European think tank slams Pak for 'misplaced, unwarranted' Kashmir remark during SAARC COVID-19 conference

ANI  |  Asia 

A European think-tank has slammed Pakistan for raking up the Kashmir issue at a video conference with the SAARC nations on the COVID-19 outbreak, saying that the "misplaced and unwarranted political remarks" by Islamabad's representative served to take the country's image several notches lower among the co-members.

In his address at the SAARC video conference convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Zafar Mirza, Pakistan's State Minister of Health, had raised the Kashmir issue, saying it is imperative that the lockdown in the region be lifted in view of the health emergency amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In its commentary, the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), said that the "uncalled for" statement from a country that has had an avowed disinclination to assist its own citizens stranded in COVID-19 hotspots came across as "crass, crude and cringe-worthy". The Think Tank remarked that at the time of a crisis situation screaming for unity and synchronisation, the best Pakistan could contribute to at the SAARC video conference were the seeds of division and discord.

"Although Pakistan's target may have been India, its huge faux pas only served to ensure that Pakistan's image and standing, especially among the other SAARC countries, took a massive beating," the report read.

"Pakistan's glaring pettiness drove home among the other SAARC members that Pakistan actually had little interest in regional cooperation. The fallibility of attempting to deal in a civilized manner, in accordance with diplomatic norms and etiquettes, with a country with values as skewed as Pakistan's also came to the fore," it added.

The think-tank criticised Imran Khan for not participating in the SAARC conference, saying that the move sent out a message to the international community that Pakistan did not want to engage with a "willing and keen India" even on a matter that had grave humanitarian implications for Pakistan's own people.

"Confusion and the inability to come up with a clear-headed answer got the better of Pakistan. It went neither this way nor that by keeping PM Khan out of the video conference but nominating the junior minister for health, who seemed too overwhelmed by the occasion to make a meaningful contribution," the report read.

"This decision showed Pakistan in a very poor light in the eyes of the Presidents and Prime Ministers of the other SAARC members that participated in the video conference," it added.

The report said that the Pakistani representative's conduct convinced the region that there was merit in the contention that a "SAARC minus Pakistan" was the best way forward for the survival and success of the grouping.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 20 2020. 22:37 IST
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