By Muhammad Luqman
United States President Donald J. Trump has reassured Pakistan of support during the coronavirus crisis and said that the US would provide “ventilators and economic help” to the South Asian country.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Trump in a telephone conversation discussed challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, its effect on the global economy and ways to mitigate its impact, according to an official statement from Pakistan Prime Minister House on Wednesday.
The call is believed to be an extension of the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s diplomatic efforts related to his Global Debt Relief Initiative. The initiative aims to bring together leaders from different countries “notably from the Paris Club, Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and heads of international organisations” to push for a more coordinated response to the pandemic.
Based on the premier’s belief that “enhanced fiscal capacity is fundamental to recovery from the ongoing pandemic” the initiative seeks to lay the ground for urgent debt relief for developing countries without “onerous conditionalities”, the statement added.
Imran Khan thanked the US president for American support at international fora, particularly the International Monetary Fund for the relief in debt to the countries like Pakistan.
The US president offered to send a rapid testing machine for Covid-19 to the prime minister after learning that he would get tested for the virus.
During the telephone call, the premier conveyed “his condolences to President Trump on the loss of so many precious lives” in the US because of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Imran also informed the US president of Pakistan’s efforts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, emphasising that the country was “facing a dual challenge” — to control the spread of the virus and to protect people, particularly the weakest sector of society from dying of hunger amid the lockdown.
He added that the government had recently announced a $8 billion package to support those affected by the pandemic.
The prime minister also reiterated Pakistan’s support for “facilitation of the Afghan peace process and underscored the importance of next steps leading to the earliest commencement of Intra-Afghan negotiations,” the statement added.
By Muhammad Luqman