ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Wednesday said it believed that SAARC provided an important platform for regional cooperation.

Responding to queries regarding Pakistan’s non-participation in the Trade Officials Video-Conference on Covid-19 arranged by India, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui stated: “Being a founding member, Pakistan believed that SAARC provides an important platform for regional cooperation.”She says the role of the Secretariat assumes further salience in emergency situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic, and its wider social and economic fall-out.

“As in the case of other regional and international organizations, SAARC Secretariat also provides the requisite convening platform, institutional framework and support structure for essential coordination and follow-up,” she added.

She said activities “such as today’s Trade Officials’ Video-Conference could only be effective if spearheaded by the SAARC Secretariat. Since the SAARC Secretariat was not part of today’s Video-Conference, Pakistan chose not to participate. In order for the SAARC process to move forward, the SAARC Secretariat must be enabled to play its due role in any event or activity being organized under SAARC auspices.”

She said at a time when the region is facing unprecedented challenges, all the available institutional frameworks must be optimally utilised.