Friday July 19, 2024

Pakistan asks India to refrain from politicising humanitarian issue

By Mariana Baabar
March 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday asked New Delhi to refrain from ‘politicisation’ of the humanitarian issue in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and rejected recent remarks made by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

“The Indian contention of politicisation of humanitarian issue is both misleading and mischievous,” said the Foreign Office in response to a statement by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

Earlier this week, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza called for an end to the lockdown imposed in IOK, given the threats posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Equity in health is a fundamental principle of public health. In this regard, let me say that it is a matter of concern that COVID-19 has been reported from IOK and in view of the health emergency, it is imperative that all lockdown there must be lifted immediately,” Dr Mirza had said while addressing the Saarc video conference. He had also asked for communication which would facilitate dissemination of information to allow distribution of medical supplies and allow containment to proceed unimpeded.

However, the spokesman at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs asked Pakistan to accept the reality and stop interfering in “internal affairs” of other countries.

“Pakistan’s participation in the video conference of Saarc member states on COVID-19 which was aimed at showing solidarity with Saarc members and reaffirming our abiding commitment to the Saarc process. The people of South Asia are well aware as to which country has been seeking to politicise the Saarc process and continues to obstruct its onward march,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

It pointed out that Dr Zafar Mirza had drawn attention to the health emergency in IOK in the context of coronavirus and underscored the need for lifting of restrictions on communications and ensuring access to medical supplies.

“In making this call, Pakistan has not been alone. Indeed, numerous voices from within IOK, India, and the world are echoing the same message,” said the Foreign Office.

Pakistan says it believes that the collective endeavours of South Asian nations to fight common challenges should not be allowed to become victim of self-serving propaganda.

“As an illustration of Pakistan’s commitment, we have reaffirmed our readiness to host the Saarc Health Ministers’ Conference at the appropriate time,” added the statement.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson at the Foreign Office said that Pakistan was grateful to China for holding a useful video conference.

“Pakistan participated in the China-Eurasia National Health Sector Expert Video Conference. Experts shared their hands on experiences. This was followed by a Q&A session on health management and pandemic control,” she tweeted.

The conference was attended by more than 10 countries in Eurasia and South Asia.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a tweet demanded that sanctions should be lifted against Iran. On Thursday, the Trump administration reinforced sanctions against Iran.

“The entire global community is fighting an unprecedented pandemic. We must, as leaders at time of such great challenge and difficulty, show utmost compassion. Sanction must be lifted against Iran, in this moment of peril so that it can use its resources to save precious human lives,” he said.

He pointed to official information that in Iran every 10 minutes one person dies from COVID-19 and 50 people infected with virus every hour.

“The situation is dire. To echo UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, world leaders must unite for humanity with an urgent and coordinated global response,” he said.