ISLAMABAD: The United States on Wednesday assured Pakistan of assistance in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and coping with its economic impact.
President Donald Trump “reassured US support to Pakistan in the efforts to combat Covid-19 including by making available ventilators as well as in the economic arena,” Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call to President Trump.
The two leaders discussed the challenge of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, mitigating its impact, and the implications of the disease for the global economy. They also discussed regional issues, including the progress on efforts for a political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan, and Pakistan-US bilateral cooperation during the telephonic call.
“The leaders discussed developments in the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and agreed to continue working together on a coordinated response to defeat the virus and minimise its economic impact,” the White House said in a readout of the call.
“The two leaders also discussed regional security and other bilateral issues,” it added.
After learning that Mr Khan had undergone test for coronavirus disease, President Trump offered to provide latest rapid testing machine for Covid-19 “to the Prime Minister”, the PMO said.
The PM made the call ahead of the launch of the $595 million funding appeal on Thursday. The funds, Pakistan government says, would be used for dealing with immediate and long-term impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on the health sector. Pakistan is expecting donor countries and multilateral organisations to make pledges against the appeal.
The US has already contributed more than $8 million to Pakistani efforts for stopping the spread of coronavirus and improving medical facilities for treatment of infected patients.
The IMF has provided $1.4 billion to Pakistan as Rapid Financing Instrument for addressing the economic impact of Covid-19. The IMF support is believed to have come through US backing. Mr Khan thanked President Trump for US support at the IMF and other fora. He told Mr Trump that the assistance from IMF and other multilateral fora would provide necessary fiscal space to Pakistan for mitigating the impact of the pandemic.
During the conversation, PM Khan also sympathised with Mr Trump and offered his condolences on the loss of precious lives in the US due to coronavirus.
Mr Khan explained the efforts being undertaken by his government to contain the virus spread and provide economic relief to people amid the lockdown. He said Pakistan was “facing a dual challenge of overcoming the pandemic and saving people, particularly the most vulnerable segments of the population, from hunger due to lockdown.” He also underlined the government’s decision to put together $8bn package to support the affected people and businesses.
In the regional context, Prime Minister Khan reiterated Pakistan’s steadfast support for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and underscored the importance of political settlement of the dispute that is in its 19th year. The Prime Minister reaffirmed his support for facilitation of the Afghan peace process and highlighted the importance of next steps leading to the earliest commencement of Intra-Afghan negotiations.