By Uzma Zafar
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah MahmoodQureshi has underscored the need for providing debt relief to developing countries so that they could utilize their resources towards mitigating the effects of Covid-19.
He was talking to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas during a telephonic conversation.
The foreign minister briefed his German counterpart on the efforts taken by the government to contain the outbreak of Covid-19 and underscored the need for the international community to collaborate during these challenging times, Foreign office spokesperson in a press release on Sunday said.
The foreign minister said that in the same spirit, Pakistan was coordinating with the regional countries via the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
During the recent video conference of the SAARC member states, Pakistan also called on India to lift the nearly eight months long blockade in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K), to ensure necessary medical supplies to contain the spread of Covid-19, he added.
The foreign minister further underlined that the situation in Iran was very serious and it was important that sanctions be lifted so that Iran could effectively deal with the humanitarian crisis unfolding due to Covid-19.
Qureshi informed his German counterpart that Pakistan had followed the IMF programme in letter and spirit and as a result, its economy was becoming stable.
However, due to the challenge posed by Covid-19, the resources were being stretched to the limits.
Foreign Minister Qureshi offered deep condolences over the loss of lives in Germany due to the outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19).
He informed that three persons in Pakistan had lost their lives while more than 500 people were infected by the Coronavirus (Covid-19).
The German foreign minister informed that 68 people had lost their lives and more than 20,000 people were infected due to Covid-19 in Germany.
He said Germany shared the concern regarding the situation in Iran and would take up the matter at his important regional meetings next week.
He also agreed on the need to provide relief to developing countries in dealing with debt burden, so that they could utilize their resources towards containing Covid-19 and said that Germany would raise this issue appropriately during the forthcoming high-level meetings.
The two ministers also agreed to remain engaged.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah MehmoodQureshi on Sunday issued a statement regarding the rapidly changing situation of the country due to the global coronavirus pandemic. The foreign minister said that each individual must act responsibly in the face of the deadly and fast-spreading virus. FM Qureshi added that all instructions being disseminated to the nation are for their own individual and collective wellbeing and should be followed religiously.
“A lot of European countries are suffering due to the doubts and non-seriousness shown towards the virus,” said FM Qureshi.
“Italy, France, America, Britain, Germany among others have suffered and their examples are for the world to learn from.”
“I got to talk to the German ambassador in Pakistan over the phone yesterday, I was told that 20,000 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in the country.” FM Qureshi said that the country and its nationals must take extreme caution and take the threat of the deadly pathogen very seriously.
“Social distancing seems to be the only workable solution to defeat the virus at the moment, Chief Minister Sindh had made an appeal to the people of Sindh to observe a three-day self-isolation amid legitimate fears related to coronavirus but the appeal was handled with a non-serious attitude by the masses.”
Talking about the Sukkur quarantine centre fiasco, FM Qureshi said that the people broke out of quarantine centres and could’ve possibly endangered the lives of many healthy suspects who were yet to contract the virus.
Qureshi also said that the Prime Minister had stated in the recent past that the coronavirus situation was evolving rapidly and decisions will be made after careful monitoring.
The foreign minister also admonished the role of the educated people of Pakistan amid the global crisis and termed it unfortunate. We need to form a united front and devise a mutual strategy to deal with the coronavirus on the blueprint adopted by China, Qureshi entailed.
The foreign minister stressed on a united effort by all the concerned authorities and people along with the provincial, federal governments on the matter. Qureshi said that the federal government can’t remain isolated during times where provincial governments are seriously mulling lockdowns in their regions.
FM Qureshi also revealed that almost 200 thousand overseas Pakistanis were currently stranded at various airports or are willing to fly back to their native lands from their current places of residence.
The foreign minister also made a concering revelation that Pakistan is not prepared to house an influx of patients in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in isolated quarantine centres and yet against implored the people to take the threat presented by the virus with extreme seriousness.