COVID-19 pandemic is currently at its third and deadly phase creating a rampage across the world especially in neighboring India. According to the latest figures, the daily death count and infections in India are the world’s highest creating records especially after the outbreak of the virus at the end of 2019.
There has been an acute shortage of oxygen for patients as they are dying on streets and verandas of hospitals. Death is dancing in India in full swing. The crisis mounted after the incumbent government put aside all the warnings given by the doctors and scientists and let the grand gatherings and processions happen, hence unleashing the virus to move across communities and cities.
Vaccine drive has been rolled out globally to curb the impact of the worldwide virus impacts. Many countries across the world have administered more than 50 percent of their population. However in Pakistan, this drive is slow as with this speed, the country needs many years to make its 220 million population to be vaccinated. Like other countries, Pakistan is struggling to counter the pandemic with its limited means. Pakistan has received support from the international community in terms of vaccine doses and other medical and healthcare equipment.
Pakistan has closed its borders with Iran and Afghanistan while there are also strict restrictions on movement with India. As Eid is around the corner, Pakistan has also made all precautionary measures to stop the spread of infection. Governments can do what they can but it is up to the public how they can cooperate and save themselves and their loved ones.
Foreign Minister of Russian Federation Serge Lavrov was here in Pakistan on a visit to engage with his Pakistani counterpart and other high officials including the Prime Minister to have the fresh impetus to the relations at the higher level. During this important path-shaping visit, there were discussions on Afghanistan, defense cooperation, North-South Gas pipeline project, and assistance to Pakistan in upgrading the Pakistan Steel.
Apart from the Russian Foreign Minister, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto was here in Islamabad. During the visit, both countries agreed to establish a credit line of $84 million for business-to-business cooperation and provide another $50 million for tied aid programs. Hungarian Foreign Minister was accompanied by 17 top companies to interact under Economic Diplomacy Initiative.
Later Prime Minister Imran Khan had a Tele summit with the President of Uzbekistan where issues of bilateral nature were discussed including the signing of several MoUs. Another important diplomatic development was that the Foreign Minister of Pakistan was in Berlin for the three days visit at the invitation of his counterpart.
The two have reviewed the entire gamut of Pakistan-Germany relations and discussed ways and means to further deepen bilateral cooperation in diverse fields, including trade, investment, health, security and defense, education, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges especially amid the 70 years of the Pak-German diplomatic ties.
These high-level visits and diplomatic conversations are important for Pakistan to amplify it’s strong economic and trade base relationships apart from standing and shining in the community of nations. Withdrawal of US Forces has been delayed first as May 1 was the deadline as agreed in the Doha agreement between Taliban and the US Secretary of State. This delay has caused exacerbation of the peace process in Afghanistan.
President Biden soon after assuming office announced that the US forces will be withdrawn from Afghan soil by 11 September, exactly two decades after the unleashing of the War on Terror and Operation Enduring Freedom in the poor country. This war has caused much more damage than help to the worries of Afghans especially women. They are vulnerable especially when there is a dreadful expectation that the Taliban will be calling the shots because of the weak government and political structures in the country.
Recently Russia hosted a Troika peace conference in Afghanistan wherein Taliban representatives, the Afghan government, the US, China, and Pakistan were invited to build understanding on peace in Afghanistan especially in the post-withdrawal circumstances. There was a scheduled meeting in Istanbul hosted by Turkey which was posted after the regrets from the Taliban.
All these regional initiatives are meant to provide Afghanistan a strong message of togetherness and commitment from regional and international stakeholders that there should be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned end to the conflict.
Unfortunately, peace in Afghanistan is a distant dream as the new wave of violence and terror is growing with each passing day. It is time that Afghan political representatives need to take the charge of their destiny for peace and prosperity, not only for the country but also for the region.