ISLAMABAD - Ireland yesterday supported Pakistan’s debt relief proposal as the world fights the coronavirus pandemic. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ireland Simon Coveney on a range of issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic, cooperation at the multilateral fora, and the prospects for enhanced bilateral cooperation. “The Irish Foreign Minister expressed support for the debt relief initiative and assured to play a positive role,” said a Foreign Ministry statement. While elaborating upon Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call for “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” for developing countries, Foreign Minister Qureshi underlined the need for closer cooperation to mitigate the impact of the economic slowdown and devote more resources to manage the on-going crisis. He underscored that a global approach was required to address the global challenge. 

Prime Minister Imran Khan had in April appealed to the international community to provide developing countries with urgent debt relief to help tackle the COVID-19 crisis. PM Khan made his “global initiative on debt relief” appeal when a World Bank report warned countries in South Asia, including Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, were on course to experience their worst economic performance in 40 years in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Qureshi said the pandemic was the gravest challenge to confront humanity in a century, and offered condolences over the loss of precious lives, and commended the effective measures being taken by Ireland to contain the outbreak. He briefed his Irish counterpart about the latest situation of the pandemic in Pakistan and steps taken by Pakistan to contain its spread. The two Foreign Ministers agreed that working together is the best way forward to fight the pandemic. The Foreign Minister expressed deep concerns over continuing double lockdown and intensified military crackdown by Indian Occupation Forces in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He denounced India’s moves to alter the demographic structure of the occupied territory, calling it a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and international law.