ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Sunday said the world must unite to defeat coronavirus pandemic. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the situation was changing rapidly at the global level due to the coronavirus.

“We need to form a united front and devise a mutual strategy to deal with the coronavirus on the blueprint adopted by China,” Qureshi said in a statement.

He added: “A lot of European countries are suffering due to the doubts and non-seriousness shown towards the virus. Italy, France, America, Britain, Germany among others have suffered and the world must learn from their examples.”

The FM held telephonic talks with the Iranian and Nepalese counterparts on the coronavirus issue.

Speaking to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Qureshi conveyed deep concern and sorrow over the tragic loss of lives in the on-going pandemic.

“The Foreign Minister commended the government and people of Iran for valiantly combating the COVID-19 global pandemic,” said a foreign ministry statement.

The Foreign Minister underscored that the pandemic was one of the greatest challenges to confront humanity in a century.

Successfully overcoming it necessitated both compassion and innovation, he said. The FM apprised his Iranian counterpart of Pakistan’s efforts to contain the pandemic.

Foreign Minister Qureshi also reiterated the earlier call made by Prime Minister Imran Khan to lift sanctions against Iran, to enable it to utilize its resources to save precious human lives. He also apprised the Iranian Foreign Minister of Pakistan’s diplomatic outreach in this regard.  

Prospects of enhanced bilateral cooperation and coordination at the border in the context of the ongoing pandemic, also came under discussion.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif appreciated Pakistan’s reaffirmation of support and solidarity and call to lift sanctions on Iran, in view of COVID-19.

He informed the Foreign Minister that under President Hassan Rouhani's instructions, two hospitals had been allocated for foreign pilgrims from Pakistan and other countries.

The two Foreign Ministers underlined that Pakistan and Iran were not only close neighbours, but brotherly countries, that had stood by each other through difficult times. The two leaders agreed to stay in close contact.

Separately, Foreign Minister Qureshi held telephonic conversation with Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali of Nepal on the Covid-19 Pandemic

Detailed discussions were held on the situation arising from the spread of Covid-19, and ways to enhance cooperation to combat the threat posed by the rapid spread of the pandemic. Challenges faced by regional States and the need for joint efforts came under review.

Foreign Minister Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to host the SAARC Health Ministers’ Conference and suggested that a video conference could be organized due to the prevailing global health emergency.

He said Pakistan considered SAARC an important platform for regional cooperation. He appreciated Nepal’s leadership role as Chair in steering the SAARC process forward despite the many odds.

The two ministers agreed on the need to work closely to promote collective endeavours to fight common challenges.

The Foreign Minister noted that Pakistan has proposed that sanctions on Iran be lifted so that humanitarian relief can be provided at this time of crisis to save precious human lives.

The Foreign Minister of Nepal appreciated the proposal. He also expressed concerns on the humanitarian crisis in Iran.

Foreign Ministers Qureshi and Gayawali further noted that this year marked the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Nepal.

They reiterated mutual commitment to further strengthening bonds of friendship between the two countries, bilaterally as well as through regional and international forums, said an official statement.

In the earlier statement, Qureshi said that each individual must act responsibly in the face of the deadly and fast-spreading virus.

FM Qureshi added that all instructions being disseminated to the nation are for their own individual and collective wellbeing and should be followed religiously.

“I spoke to the German ambassador in Pakistan over the phone yesterday, I was told that 20,000 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in the country,” he mentioned.

Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan had pointed out that the coronavirus situation was evolving rapidly and decisions will be made after careful monitoring.

The foreign minister also admonished the role of the educated people of Pakistan amid the global crisis and termed it unfortunate.

The foreign minister stressed on a united effort by all the concerned authorities and people along with the provincial, federal governments on the matter.

Qureshi said that the federal government cannot remain isolated during times where provincial governments are seriously mulling lockdowns in their regions.

FM Qureshi said almost 200 thousand overseas Pakistanis were currently stranded at various airports or are willing to fly back to their native lands from their current places of residence.