'Pakistan stands with India': Outpouring of empathy in Pakistan as India faces the worst of pandemic

Published April 24, 2021
Relatives wait next to a Covid-19 patient laying on a stretcher in a hospital complex for admission in New Delhi, India on Saturday. — AFP
Relatives wait next to a Covid-19 patient laying on a stretcher in a hospital complex for admission in New Delhi, India on Saturday. — AFP

Politicians, journalists and citizens across Pakistan expressed support and offered prayers for people in India where the second wave of the pandemic has taken a heavy a toll on the public as the country’s health infrastructure struggles to cope up.

On Saturday, #PakistanstandswithIndia and #Indianeedoxygen remained the top trends on Twitter for the second day as a record number of infections and deaths due to the novel coronavirus created an alarming situation in the neighbouring country.

In the past 24 hours, India reported 2,624 deaths — a new daily record — as well as more than 340,000 new cases. The country's deaths since the start of the pandemic rose to nearly 190,000 while its total cases reached 16.5 million, second only to the United States.

Over the last few days, Twitter has been flooded with Indians sharing harrowing stories of the struggle they faced while trying to find hospital beds and oxygen for their loved ones.

Mainstream media has also covered the desperate situation in several Indian cities where many have died waiting in line to get medical attention as hospitals have reached capacity and medical oxygen remains in short supply. Dozens of Covid positive critical patients have died in the Indian capital alone after hospitals ran out of oxygen.

Reports suggest crematoriums in Delhi have run out of space, forcing people to wait for hours, even days. along with the bodies of their loved ones to ensure their final rites are carried out.

Reacting to the situation, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed Pakistan's solidarity with India, saying: "Our prayers for a speedy recovery go to all those suffering from the pandemic in our neighbourhood & the world."

The premier said "we must fight this global challenge confronting humanity together."

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi too expressed his support to people in India amid the intensifying second wave which he said had hit the South Asian region hard.

"On behalf of the people of Pakistan, I extend our heartfelt sympathies to the affected families in #India," he tweeted.

Qureshi said the pandemic was a reminder that "humanitarian issues require responses beyond political consideration", adding that Pakistan continued to work with Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) to increase cooperation to tackle Covid-19.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said prayers of Pakistani citizens were with the people of India, adding: "May God be kind and may these difficult times get over soon."

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said it was "painful" to see the suffering of Indian people as they grappled with the coronavirus and oxygen shortages.

"We are all in this struggle to stem massive surge of deadly third wave. Unfortunate that many in West have sought to only seal their borders rather than help," she added, apparently referring to countries like the United Kingdom and Canada that have temporarily banned flights from India.

Addressing Indians, journalist Nasim Zehra said "[we] in Pakistan watch [your] acute suffering with great pain."

"Whatever [our] differences [we] bond in humanity. [Our] prayers [for you] continue. In solidarity," she added.

Activist Ammar Ali Jan said the Twitter trend represented the "best side of Pakistan".

"Only peace and cooperation in our region can help us prepare for existing and coming disasters," he tweeted.

Meanwhile, activist Usama Khilji called on the government to help India with oxygen supplies as the neighbouring country faced shortages.

"Heartening to see #IndiaNeedsOxygen #IndianLivesMatter trend at top in Pakistan. Shows that people have hearts in the right place," he said.

Faisal Edhi offers help

A day earlier, Faisal Edhi, son of renowned philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi and chairman of the Edhi Foundation, penned a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he expressed his concern on the Covid-19 crisis underway in India and offered his help in confronting the epidemic.

"We are very sorry to hear about the exceptionally heavy impact that the pandemic has had on your country, where a tremendous number of people are suffering immensely," said Faisal in his letter.

He said the Edhi Foundation sympathised with India during this difficult time and offered help in the form of "a fleet of 50 ambulances along with our services to assist you in addressing, and further circumventing, the current health conditions".

Faisal personally offered to lead and manage the humanitarian team from his organisation, said the letter.

It added that the Edhi Foundation understood the gravity of the situation and "we wish to lend you our full support, without any inconvenience to you, which is why we will arrange all the necessary supplies that our team needs to assist the people of India."

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