FM Qureshi holds COVID-19 talks with Qatar

By Staff Reporter
Friday – April 3, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The foreign minister (FM) Shah Mahmood Qureshi held telephone conversations with his Qatari counterpart and with South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) secretary general, on Thursday, FM Qureshi with his Qatari counterpart discussed the situation resulting from the rapid spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, ways to mitigate the crisis, and in his conversation with SAARC secretary general, FM Qureshi welcomed him on board.

According to official statements, FM Qureshi in his telephone conversation with his Qatari counterpart, who also serves as the deputy prime minister (D-PM) of Qatar, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, stated that Pakistan was deploying all available resources to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its impact.

Appreciating the timely measures taken by the Qatari government, he noted with satisfaction that these steps had helped contain the disease in Qatar.

FM Qureshi apprised his Qatari counterpart about prime minister (PM) Imran Khan’s call for debt relief and restructuring to enable the developing countries to free up resources to combat the disease and shore up economies.

He also appreciated the role played by the state of Qatar in facilitating the peace process in Afghanistan.

FM Qureshi expressed deep concern over the situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOK), where the coronavirus had spread and fatalities were being reported.

Continued restrictions on movement and communication were imperilling the health and safety of 8 million Kashmiris.

He called for immediate lifting of all restrictions to allow dissemination of information and unfettered supply of medicines, and other essentials.

FM Qureshi also called for immediate release of all Kashmiri leaders, youth and civil society members, who had been languishing in Indian jails and were at heightened risk of contracting the infection.

The Qatari FM/D-PM Al Thani thanked FM Qureshi for his call and highlighted the steps being taken by Qatar to contain the pandemic.

He underscored the importance of learning from the experience of the countries which had managed to control the disease successfully.

Qatari FM/D-PM Al Thani described Pakistan’s call for debt restructuring for developing countries as an important and timely initiative and stated that Qatar was supportive of it.

The two ministers underscored the need for joint efforts to deal with the current challenges and agreed to stay closely engaged on all issues of common interest.

Separately, in his telephone conversation with SAARC secretary general Esala Ruwan Weerakoon, FM Qureshi congratulated Weerakoon on assuming responsibilities as the 14th secretary general of SAARC, assured him of Pakistan’s full support and expressed the hope that under his experienced stewardship, the SAARC process will be able to move forward.

FM Qureshi and SAARC secretary general Weerakoon discussed the challenges faced by South Asian states in the face of the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

The need for joint efforts to deal with the situation was emphasised by both sides. FM Qureshi underscored that being a founding member, Pakistan remained committed to the SAARC process and considered it an important platform for regional cooperation.

He reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to host the SAARC health ministers’ meeting and suggested that due to the prevailing global health emergency a video conference could be organised.

SAARC secretary general Weerakoon appreciated Pakistan’s proposal of health minister’s video conference. FM Qureshi also reiterated that the proposed SAARC COVID-19 emergency fund may be placed under the supervision of the secretary general and that the modalities for the fund’s utilisation be finalised through consultations among member states.

Dilating upon the economic impact of COVID-19 on the developing world, FM Qureshi highlighted PM Khan’s call for debt restructuring of the developing countries to enable them to dedicate resources towards saving human lives and shoring up economies.

He reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to work closely with the SAARC secretariat and SAARC member states to realise the common goal of accelerating economic growth and promoting the welfare of the people of South Asia.