Anti-tobacco conference: Pakistan's New Delhi presence to be limited

The bottom line is that requiring large pictorial warnings would help protect the public health of people

ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI Pakistan will not attend a global tobacco control conference in India next week, a minister said on Friday, the latest fallout of strained diplomatic ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours.India is hosting the biennial conference of the only global treaty aimed at deterring tobacco use, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

India will push for incorporating smokeless tobacco as an agenda of a crucial global tobacco control conference which it would host for the first time next week, an event which Pakistan is unlikely to attend.

They were, however, unable to say whether Pakistan boycotted the week-long New Delhi conference or the officials concerned were denied visas by the Indian government.

When asked about the composition of China's delegation, Liu, team leader for governance and worldwide cooperation at the secretariat, said: "We are still in contact with China and a final decision has not (been) made yet".

Saira Afzal Tarar, Pakistan's state minister of health sciences regulation and coordination, has confirmed Islamabad's decision to news agency Reuters. "As far as Pakistan's participation is concerned, it is not feasible due to ongoing tensions", she said.

" For CoP7 to be able to chart out a cohesive and rational public policy on issues pertaining to the sector, it is imperative that there is sufficient representations from all relevant stake holders at the meet", said the letter by FICCI to the Health Ministry.

Conference decisions on treaty provisions will have a direct bearing on a global tobacco industry that Euromonitor International estimates is worth $784 billion this year.Topics for discussion include alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers, e-cigarettes and trade and investment issues.

"Some officials from the Pakistan High Commission in India are going to participate in the conference ... on behalf of the federal ministry of health", he said.

NHSRC had nominated Director of the Tobacco Control Cell Muhammad Waqas Tarar to represent Pakistan at the conference.

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