Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has emerged as a leader whose definition of humanity is not limited to specific territorial boundaries. His and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s appeal before the international community to remove sanctions on Iran is honourable. Western leaders must second this call and pressurise the US to lift sanctions that are impairing Iran’s fight against the coronavirus. Coronavirus does not discriminate between borders and frontiers, as its worldwide spread already tells.

Given the fact that WHO calls coronavirus a pandemic, the international community must fight it together. However, the countries are dealing with the virus on their own. US officials are blaming China for the spread of the virus and President Trump is leading them from the front, by calling it a Chinese virus, which suggests that the virus can divide an already bitterly divided world further. The spread of COVID-19 in Iran must not be used to secure narrow national interests.

Clearly, the reason for Iran’s failure to deal with the virus is not related to a crisis of governance. Sanctions against Tehran are already wreaking havoc in the country and with the onset of the virus, the system just cannot cope on strictly limited supply lines. Both allies and enemies are cooperating in this fight; Pakistan itself greatly appreciates the contributions of countries like China and the US to our own efforts against coronavirus. It is hoped that this sort of generosity is extended to all others that are suffering as well.

Sadly, the “civilised ones” are mum while watching Iran’s rising death toll from the virus. The fierce urgency of this issue demands that the west to stop adhering to US sanctions.