India-Pakistan ties in Covid-19
The World Health Organization has reported that approximately 50% of the new Covid-19 cases in the world are occurring in India.
By 01 May, there had been more than 19 million total cases and over 210,000 deaths in India since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
As this second wave of the coronavirus intensified, the daily case count went over 300,000 for ten consecutive days and has now exceeded 400,000 a day. This cataclysmic wave has pushed the Indian healthcare system to the brink of collapse.
The United States and many other countries have come forward to assist the Indian healthcare system by providing material for vaccines, therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, personal protective equipment, oxygen and various medicines.
Pakistan and Pakistanis have spoken and reached out empathetically to India as well. Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his sympathy in a tweet on Saturday, April 24.
“I want to express our solidarity with the people of India as they battle a dangerous wave of COVID-19. Our prayers for a speedy recovery go to all those suffering from the pandemic in our neighbourhood and the world.
We must fight this global challenge confronting humanity together.” Khan did not tweet in isolation.
His tweet was joined by tens of thousands of tweets from other Pakistanis. Those tweets have come from journalists to showbiz stars, from political activists to social workers.
They have come from Pakistanis of all types wishing to play some part in alleviating the pain of Indian fellowmen. “Pakistan Stands With India” has become a top trending hash tag.
News 18 reports, “In a sense of solidarity, netizens in Pakistan have also reached out to their Indian counterparts offering prayers and good wishes for coming out of the crazy blow of the Covid-19 second wave”.
Pakistanis have offered more than words of concern. In a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Faisal Edhi, son of Abdul Sattar Edhi, legendary humanist and philanthropist, proposed to provide the Edhi Foundation’s assistance to India.
He said he was ready to lead a humanitarian effort with his medical technicians, 50 ambulances, drivers and helpers in whichever city the Indian government would permit.
Faisal Edhi was offering what I call purposeful philanthropy.
As I have said in the past, an international interconnected philanthropic network (IIPN) dedicated to developing a collaborative and coordinated response to the pandemic globally should be an essential element of solving this problem.
The IIPN’s purpose would be to develop strategies and approaches to address the root causes of this pandemic, avoid future pandemics, and help nations cope with the consequences of the pandemic going forward.
The road map is the starting line and a frame of reference. And, it is a useful one for moving away from the most recent intractability.
This moment could be built upon – given the necessary precautions and health safety from both sides in the short term by promoting small collaborative acts between India and Pakistan.
These collaborations could include: Granting permission for religious tourists to visit the Kartarpur Gurdwara.
Convening Indian and Pakistani health professionals to discuss post-Covid health scenarios.
Boosting the people-to-people ties by allowing the cricket teams of the two countries to play against each other. After that, there could be the engagement of the appropriate and duly designated representatives from both countries to advance discussion of peace between Pakistan and India.
Ultimately, the leaders of Pakistan and India will determine which course to follow. They will decide whether this is the time to focus on coming together to set a new agenda to address the health, social and economic concerns of these nations. One might think that this is impossible.
I do not share that pessimistic view. It has been said that necessity is the stepmother of invention.
This is a time of great necessity. It is the time to reinvent the relation between Pakistan and India.
Pakistan’s reaching out its hand and heart to India could provide the basis for launching that reinvention process. This is my cautiously optimistic perspective.
—The writer is an Entrepreneur, Civic Leader, and Thought Leader based in Washington DC.