ISLAMABAD                 -          Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday contacted his Iranian, New Zealand and Finland counterparts to discuss the coronavirus and a joint strategy against the pandemic,

Qureshi received a telephone call from Foreign Minister of Iran, Dr Javad Zarif.

Offering condolences over the loss of precious lives in Iran due to COVID-19, the Foreign Minister expressed the hope that Iran would achieve success against the global pandemic.

They discussed the recent outbreak of desert locust in the region and agreed on the need for collective endeavours to effectively address this menace.

The two Foreign Ministers exchanged views on the Afghan peace process. Foreign Minister Qureshi reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support for peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan and our hopes for the earliest commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations.

Foreign Minister Qureshi expressed thanks for Iranian leadership’s principled position on the rights of the Kashmiri people and highlighted enhanced difficulties in IOJ&K due to communications restrictions and lack of unfettered access to medical and other supplies to address coronavirus.

The Foreign Minister also drew attention to the demonization of Muslims in India in the context of COVID-19, emphasizing that it should be rejected by the world community.

Later, Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, to discuss matters related to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic as well as bilateral relations.

Highlighting cooperative relations between Pakistan and New Zealand, the Foreign Minister underscored the importance of a coordinated international response to deal with the unprecedented pandemic.

The foreign minister highlighted on-going restrictions in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJ&K), which were hampering dissemination of information and preventing unfettered supply of medicines and other essentials needed to combat Covid-19. He also expressed deep concern over heightened hate crimes and demonization of the Muslim minority in India in the context of Covid-19.

Separately, Foreign Minister Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with Foreign Minister Pekka Olavi Haavisto of Finland. Ways and means to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and its socio-economic fallout came under discussion.

The Foreign Minister briefed the Finnish Foreign Minister on the measures being taken by the government of Pakistan to contain the pathogen while safeguarding economic well-being and livelihoods of the people, particularly the most vulnerable segments.

The foreign minister expressed concern over the continued communications and movement restrictions in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJ&K) that were hampering dissemination of information and unfettered supply of medicines and other essentials needed to combat the disease. He also noted that the Hindutva-inspired BJP Government in India was using the Pandemic to demonize India’s Muslim minority in the context of Covid-19, an attempt that should be rejected by the international community.

The Foreign Minister of Finland thanked the Foreign Minister for expressing solidarity and concurred with him on having a coordinated international approach to deal with Covid-19. Foreign Minister Haavisto shared the concern by Foreign Minister Qureshi vis-à-vis the negative fallout of Covid-19 on the fragile economies of developing countries. The two leaders agreed to remain engaged on the debt relief initiative and enhancement of bilateral relations.