Residents of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (PaK) have appealed to Pakistan’s arch-rival India to send food and medical supplies amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. The PaK region lacks quality medical facilities and with heightening inflation, the ordinary residents are looking for urgent assistance.
A 20 kg of flour sold for 700 Pakistani rupees is now being sold for more than 1200 Pakistani rupees. According to ANI, 23 constituencies in PaK are badly affected by food shortage. The people in the PaK region have requested the Indian Government to send food supplies via the Rajouri border.
Ever since the lockdown was implemented, the Gilgit Baltistan region’s local government has been struggling to contain the virus because of the want of financial aid and medical infrastructure. Earlier, Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman had lambasted Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan’s Government for its lack of financial and medical support at the time of coronavirus pandemic and had demanded Rs 1.75 billion for managing the crisis.
A couple of days back, the Traders Association in PaK announced that they will keep their businesses open for locals from April 18 onwards from 10 am to 4 pm and extend it throughout Ramadan festivities. The association has asked for a waiver of current fiscal year’s taxes, compensation for losses resulting from lockdown, issuance of interest-free loans, exemption from payment of utility bills in view of the hardships faced by the small businessmen due to the indifference of the Government.
One of the principal opposition parties in Pakistan, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had also blamed Pakistan PM Imran Khan Government’s response in handling coronavirus outbreak. PPP’s Gilgit Baltistan President Amjad Hussain had accused Imran Khan Government of holding back Rs 2.5 billion which could have been effectively used to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.
Many other NGOs in Hunza area of Gilgit Baltistan have also alleged negligence in the distribution of relief materials to the needy. Earlier, as the EurAsian Times reported, there were also reports of Pakistan moving corona virus-infected patients to Pakistan-administred-Kashmir to get foreign aid.
Last month, many exiled PaK leaders had praised the Indian Government for its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the exiled leaders, Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza living Glasgow England said, “It is a highly commendable act that PM Modi has announced a ‘janata curfew ‘on March 22 to combat coronavirus.”
Mirza said the situation in Pakistan is dire and blamed the Pakistani leadership for its inept handling of outbreak and added that there is a shortage of quarantine facilities and test kits. “The border between China and Pakistan should be closed as the spread of the deadly virus in the region is exploding.
Hospitals where coronavirus patients are kept lack running water and proper toilets. Under the current situation, the border between Kargil and Gilgit Baltistan should be opened and a team of Indian doctors and medical experts should be sent to help PaK residents,” he said, according to ANI.
Senge Hasnan Sering, another exiled political activist also praised Indian PM Narendra Modi and called Pakistani leadership reckless. He said, “Indian PM Modi is playing a constructive and supportive role as is expected of the world’s fourth-largest economy.
His policy of no citizens left behind has earned him recognition and appreciation from the opposition parties. Although Gilgit Baltistan is a direct neighbor of China’s Xinjiang, its inhabitants are getting coronavirus infection from a completely unexpected location like Iran. When compared to other Pakistani provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan has the highest number of positive coronavirus cases in proportion to the population size.”