GoP holds COVID-19 talks with Malaysia and Singapore

By Staff Reporter
Thursday – April 9, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The foreign minister (FM) Shah Mahmood Qureshi held telephone conversations, Wednesday, with Malaysian FM Hishammuddin Hussein and Singaporean FM Vivian Balakrishnan, to discuss the situation arising out of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and ways to address the situation.

According to official statements, in his conversation with Malaysian FM Hussein, FM Qureshi felicitated his counterpart on recent appointment to the important position and offered condolences for the loss of innocent lives in the pandemic.

He thanked Malaysian FM for looking after the Pakistani nationals based in Malaysia, as well as facilitating them at the airports.

Underscoring that Pakistan’s and Malaysia’s infection rates and fatalities were similar, the FM commended the measures adopted by the Malaysian authorities to contain the epidemic, and apprised his Malaysian counterpart of the steps being taken by Pakistan.

FM Qureshi briefed the Malaysian FM Hussein about prime minister (PM) Imran Khan’s initiative for debt relief and restructuring to enable developing countries to save human lives and support economies.

He highlighted developments in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOK), where, taking advantage of world preoccupation with the pandemic, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government had amended domicile rules in a bid to change the disputed region’s demography.

In view of the pandemic emergency, the FM called for removal of all restrictions in IOK on movement and communication, ensuring unfettered supply of medicines and other essentials as well as release of all political prisoners.

Separately, in his conversation with Singaporean FM Balakrishnan, FM Qureshi commended Singapore’s deft handling of the public health crisis and admired timely measures that helped in containing the spread of the virus, and added that Pakistan looked forward to learn from Singapore’s experience in the field of epidemiology.

While briefing his Singaporean counterpart of the steps taken by Pakistan to combat the disease, the FM evinced interest in the application, “Trace Together,” in Pakistan to break the chain of transmission.

FM Qureshi thanked the Singaporean government for facilitating the return of Pakistani nationals from Singapore.

Singaporean FM Balakrishnan appreciated Pakistan’s support in the repatriation of Singaporean nationals from Pakistan.

FM Qureshi highlighted PM Khan’s call for debt relief and restructuring to help developing countries create the fiscal space needed to combat the disease, save precious human lives and shore up economies.

The FM thanked Singaporean FM Balakrishnan for his standing invitation, and stated that he looked forward to visit Singapore, at a mutually convenient time, once the crisis was resolved.

The two foreign ministers agreed to stay engaged on COVID-19 and other matters of mutual interest.