ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Saturday offered medical supplies to India that has been struggling to cope with an overwhelming wave of Covid-19 while its leaders expressed solidarity with Indian people.
After Prime Minister Imran Khan’s tweet praying for the ‘speedy recovery’ of the Indian people affected by the virus and calling for cooperation in fight against the pandemic, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi took to Twitter to announce that India had been offered assistance.
“As a gesture of solidarity with the people of India in the wake of the current wave of #COVID19, Pakistan has officially offered relief & support to #India,” he tweeted.
The supplies being offered to India include ventilators, Bi PAP, digital X-ray machines, personal protective equipment and other related items.
Mr Qureshi said Pakistan believed in the policy of humanity first.
The Foreign Office (FO) asked the Indian authorities to coordinate so that modalities could be worked out for quick delivery of the relief items. It said the two sides could explore possible ways for further cooperation to mitigate the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had earlier appealed for international assistance for dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
Nearly a million new infections have been reported in India during the past three days. Only on Friday 346,786 more people tested positive for the coronavirus. India, which is currently undergoing the second wave of the pandemic, is said to be faced with one of the worst surges in the world. The number of people affected by the disease and the number of deaths have touched new records.
Overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients, Indian hospitals have run short of oxygen and space to accommodate more people suffering from the disease.
Indian Air Force on Saturday airlifted four cryogenic oxygen tanks from Singapore, while supplies are also expected from the United Arab Emirates, some European countries and Russia.
Despite the animosity between the two countries, Pakistani tweets had a day earlier ran a Twitter trend ‘#IndiaNeedsOxygen’ to urge the government to help India.
Pakistan decided to offer the assistance though the Covid-19 situation in the country was also turning serious with 157 deaths from coronavirus in a day. It was the highest single-day fatality since the start of the pandemic last year. A total of 5,908 new cases were reported on Friday. Since the start of this month, the daily count of new cases has been more than 5,000 on most of the days.
Most of the hospitals in the country are already near capacity.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry at a press conference warned: “If the situation does not improve within one week, then we will have to think about a complete lockdown.”
Just a day ago, Edhi Foundation in a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered the services of a fleet of 50 ambulances and support staff.
In a tweet, PM Khan on Saturday expressed solidarity with the people of India and prayed for the “speedy recovery” of those affected by the pandemic. He called for cooperation against the pandemic saying: “We must fight this global challenge confronting humanity together.”
FM Qureshi, in his message, also expressed sympathy with the people of India and highlighted the need for putting aside political considerations while dealing with humanitarian crises like the one currently confronted by India. He tweeted: “We express our support to the people of India in the wake of the current wave of #COVID19 infections, that has hit our region hard. On behalf of the people of Pakistan, I extend our heartfelt sympathies to the affected families in #India.
“#COVID19 is yet another reminder that humanitarian issues require responses beyond political consideration. Pakistan continues to work with SAARC countries to foster cooperation to tackle the pandemic.”
Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2021