Pakistan's representative (left) made references to Kashmir during SAARC conference last week

India has maintained that Kashmir is its internal issue. During a SAARC conference on coronavirus, called by PM Modi, Pakistan's representative Zafar Mirza had asked India to 'lift the lockdown in Kashmir' in light of COVID-19. The think tank also observed that SAARC minus Pakistan could be the way forward for the success of the regional group

New Delhi: A European think tank, on Friday, slammed Pakistan for raking up the Kashmir issue during a SAARC video conference on coronavirus. The European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) said that Islamabad's "misplaced and unwarranted political remarks" took the country's image several notches down among co-members.

As reported earlier, Pakistan's representative Zafar Mirza had, during a SAARC conference convened by PM Narendra Modi, raised the Kashmir issue and said that '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 think tank observed that the uncalled for statements 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".

"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.

Criticising Pakistan PM Imran Khan for not participating in the SAARC conference, the think tank further observed that "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." 

"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.

In a rather severe comment on Islamabad, the think tank further said that Pakistan representative's conduct at the conference showed that SAARC minus Pakistan was the best way forward for the regional cooperation.