Pakistan has refused to attend crucial meeting on locust attacks: MEA

19 June, 2020 | newsx bureau

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The development goes against earlier reports of bilateral cooperation on the desert locust outbreak as Islamabad gives no formal response.

Pakistan on Thursday skipped a crucial meeting with India to tackle recent locust attacks that led to extensive crop damage in both countries, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said. “As per the available information, Pakistan has refused to join the meeting which was proposed to be held today,” said Anurag Srivastava, MEA spokesperson on meeting between India and Pakistan on locust management.

Officials from both India and Pakistan were expected to hold a technical level meeting on June 18. Islamabad had not given any formal response on the request to hold discussions over the issue earlier, according to the diplomatic sources.

The Pakistan Foreign Office had said on June 5 that Pakistan and India are cooperating with each other to tackle the issue of desert locust under a forum administered by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Pakistan and India are members of FAO’s Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in South-West Asia (SWAC).

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Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui, in the weekly media briefing, had said that the ministerial meeting of the commission was held in March during which it was decided to reactivate communication between the member states on the locust situation and a Technical and Operational Coordination (ToC) team was formed to exchange information, enhance coordination at the border areas and increase synchronisation to combat desert locust outbreak in the region, Dawn reported.

She said Pakistan had been participating in the SWAC meeting on a weekly basis. She said cooperation in exchanging information in bordering areas of Pakistan and India was “fruitful”, according to the report.

“We believe that the respective technical teams have been coordinating appropriately through FAO,” she had said. Farooqui said that Pakistan “remains committed to cooperating with all SWAC member states, including India, in combating desert locust outbreak”.

Pakistan and India are facing the worst locust attack in recent years. The desert locust is a species of locust, a swarming short-horned grasshopper and poses an unprecedented threat to food supply and livelihoods of millions of people.

Locust swarms from Pakistan entered Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh threatening standing crops. Rajasthan is the worst affected state.

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