Bangladesh may accept Pakistan’s Covid aid


HC Imran Siddique meets BD FM; conveys Pakistan’s desire to extend aid under SAARC emergency fund; Indian, Pakistani envoys arrive at the Ministry at the same time


DHAKA: In Dhaka, Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswamy and Pakistani High Commissioner Imran Ahmed Siddiqui visited the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday afternoon. It is rare incident for top diplomats from two hostile South Asian countries to visit the foreign ministry on the same day. On the one hand, Indian High Commissioner paid a courtesy call on State Minister for foreign Affairs, Shahriar Alam. On the other hand, the High Commissioner of Pakistan paid a courtesy call on Foreign Secretary Masood bin Momen.

Two courtesy meetings were held at around noon. Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Dhaka Imran Ahmed Siddiqui came first to meet Foreign Secretary Masood bin Momen. After 15 minutes, Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswamy came to meet State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam. However, Vikram Doraiswamy left the Foreign Ministry before the end of the Pakistani High Commissioner’s talks with the Foreign Secretary.

Foreign Ministry officials told this correspondent in the afternoon that Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswamy was scheduled to pay a courtesy call. The discussion could not take place for miss matched of the schedule for several days. The ‘informal’ meeting took place today at noon. However, no one wanted to talk about what the top Indian diplomat had discussed with the Bangladesh foreign minister in Dhaka.

Talking to senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was learned that Imran Siddiqui discussed with the Foreign Secretary the issue of Pakistan’s desire to assist a private aid agency of Bangladesh to curb Corona under the SAARC Emergency Fund. Last December, the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing its interest in providing various items including medical equipment to the Bangladesh-based organization from SAARC’s Covid-19 Emergency Fund. The Pakistani High Commissioner requested the Foreign Secretary to address the issue as it had been pending for six months. Bangladesh has replied positively to cognize the issue.

SAARC’s Covid-19 Emergency Assistance Fund has been set up in 2020 at the initiative of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India has allocated 10 million for the fund. Pakistan has allocated 3 million and Bangladesh 1.5 million. The SAARC member countries have kept the special fund for Covid to themselves. The countries of South Asia are providing assistance to other countries from that fund as per own liking.

Meanwhile, there was a long-standing complication in demarcating the plots allotted for the Pakistan High Commission in Baridhara. This week, a concerned department of the government has taken initiative to address it. The High Commissioner of Pakistan expressed his gratitude to the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh for this.