India was represented by a senior official at a video conference of health ministers of Saarc states organised by Pakistan on Thursday to discuss regional cooperation in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The video conference, chaired by Pakistan’s de facto health minister Zafar Mirza, was held more than a month after the virtual meeting of heads of government of members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 15.
Pakistan was the only country that wasn’t represented by a head of government at the March 15 video conference, which witnessed the creation of a Saarc Covid Emergency Fund with an initial contribution of $10 million from India.
India’s delegation at Thursday’s video conference was led by Rajiv Garg, the director general of health services.
An Indian statement said “most Saarc countries were represented at the official level” at Thursday’s video conference, while a statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Office said it was joined by Saarc secretary general Esala Ruwan Weerakoon and ministers from three Saarc states.
Though Pakistan contended Sri Lanka’s health minister joined the video conference, people familiar with developments said the country was represented by the deputy director general of public health.
The Indian delegation, including experts from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Indian Council of Medical Research, built on the briefing made at the March 26 video conference of Saarc health experts and presented an account of the country’s response to the pandemic