Imran Khan addresses the UN General Assembly session in New York. File
Pakistan has regretted negative remarks by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson on a goodwill suggestion by Prime Minister Imran Khan offering to share Pakistan's successful experience in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the poorest sections of the society.
Remarks by the MEA's spokesperson reflect an unprofessional attempt at point-scoring over a serious issue that involves lives of millions of poor people in the sub-continent, worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The uproar occurred when Imran offered to help India in making use of the cash transfer program called "Ehsaas Programme" to reach out to the poor. The Pakistani premier cited a report stating that "nearly 34 per cent households across India would not be able to survive for more than a week without assistance", and took to Twitter offering help by sharing his implemented cash transfer programme.
Imran on Thursday offered to assist the Indian government in providing support to its impoverished households. Imran Khan's offer grasps importance as it comes at a time when both countries are at war along the Line of Control (LoC) and the working boundary, with heavy exchanges of artillery claiming lives on both sides of the border.
The Pakistan Foreign Office said that Imran Khan's proposition was in the framework of a study by a reputable US University that highlighted the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on Indian households, especially the poorest sections of the society and effectiveness of direct cash transfers and food to the poor families affected by lockdowns and its devastating burnouts.
It further added that international agencies have appreciated the positive impact of the Government of Pakistan's direct cash transfer of Rs120 billion to 10 million poor families in Pakistan was in the most transparent manner.
Imran's offer at this challenging time of a global pandemic was in lieu with the initiative for sharing national experiences among SAARC member countries in dealing with the impact of Covid-19. If that intent was serious, then the MEA's response to Imran Khan's suggestion is inconsistent with the stated position of their own leadership.
Pakistan's cash transfer programme has been appreciated and lauded by global financial outlets like World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The distribution of this cash transfer programme is the largest financial aid initiative that the country did.
The Foreign Office said that the government of Pakistan underlines that the global pandemic is a common challenge demanding grave efforts and authentic sharing of national experiences among countries while rising above petty point-scoring and leg pulling, the world needs to come together to rise above this pandemic as a nation on a united front.
With the country's crippling economy and GDP growth estimated to fall down to minus two on the index for the upcoming fiscal year, analysts say that the premier's offer to India should have been taken as a damage control step aimed at bringing the enemies closer on even grounds of consultation, to help tackle the financial impact of Covid-19 in the region together.Indo-Asian News Service
Pakistan has transferred cash to 10 million families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic since launching a relief programme (Ehsaas Programme) on April 1. India dismissed the offer from Pakistan.
Talking to media men about prevailing the coronavirus situation in Islamabad on Wednesday evening, he assured that distribution of funds to the deserving families will be totally merit-based, transparent and non-political what may come.
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