Pakistan draws EU’s attention towards Iran & Kashmir amid COVID-19 outbreak

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has written a letter to the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, seeking the EU’s attention towards the deteriorating situation arising out of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic which is adding more distress to the already acute economic problems in developing countries, heavily sanctioned Iran, and besieged Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJ&K).

In his letter, the foreign minister wrote “As we all recognize, Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now a global pandemic which has affected nearly all countries of the world. These are extremely testing times for the entire humanity and, therefore, it becomes all the more important for the international community to join hands in dealing with this menace.

While COVID-19 is a humanitarian crisis and its impact on economies of the developing countries will be particularly detrimental, the full ramifications will unfold and become clear only in the weeks and months to come.

While the economically-advanced countries have the resources to divert ‘ huge funds towards combating COVID-19, the developing countries are not able to do so due to their inherent economic vulnerabilities and the presence of weaker segments in their societies. The most susceptible sections of the society will be hit the hardest by COVID-19.

All our countries are making their best efforts to grapple with myriad challenges posed by the pandemic. There are two issues which I wish to especially highlight. Firstly, we recognize that Iran has been facing serious constraints in its efforts to effectively contain the Coronavirus outbreak due to the existing sanctions. Prime Minister Imran Khan has underlined that lifting the sanctions on Iran in this particular context is a humanitarian imperative. Indeed, we believe, the international community must take urgent steps to extend the requisite support and humanitarian assistance to enable Iran to save precious human lives.

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Secondly, the UN Secretary-General has highlighted the importance of global solidarity and focusing on protecting the most vulnerable. For his part, Prime Minister Imran Khan has underscored the importance of relieving the burden of debt-ridden developing countries to enable them to devote requisite resources for saving lives and stemming economic decline.

Thirdly, the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJ&K), deteriorating since India’s unilateral and illegal actions of 5 August 2019, has entered into the eighth month. The reports of incidence of Coronavirus in IOJ&K have added further urgency to the need for lifting the communications blockade and ensuring unfettered access of medical and other essential supplies. As the world mobilizes for effective action in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis, the plight of the Kashmiri people must also remain front and centre for redressal.

These are important issues for deeper deliberations and necessary ameliorative measures by the international community. It is our sincere hope that these matters will receive the most serious consideration of the EU Foreign Ministers as they hold their next meeting through video-conference on 23. March 2020. The forthcoming G-7 Ministerial would be another important occasion to reflect on these challenges and the world community’s response.

It cannot be stressed enough that finding thoughtful solutions to these urgent problems would go a long way in alleviating immense human suffering and in restoring trust in the value of multilateral endeavours.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.”