Pakistan offers India Covid-19 aid amid outpouring of online sympathy

The Pakistani prime minister, politicians, celebrities and ordinary people have all said they stand with neighbouring India amid a deadly wave of Coronavirus cases

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Pakistan has offered to send medical aid to India as its rival struggles with a staggering surge in Covid-19 cases that triggered an outpouring of sympathy from Pakistanis.
Politicians, celebrities, sportsmen and ordinary people have taken to social media to express both alarm and commiseration for their neighbour, amid harrowing reports of India's overwhelmed hospitals and makeshift funeral pyres.
Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, said he was praying for the "speedy recovery of the Indian people affected by the virus."

Coronavirus rise in India – in pictures 

The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought several wars since independence and tensions remain high in their dispute over Kashmir, but the crisis has sparked a flood of fraternal concern.

"Yes we have had disagreements with them, but they are our brothers and sisters and we pray for them. It is terrible to see what is happening" said Mohammad Shoaib, a shopkeeper in Islamabad's Ayub market.
Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Ministry said it had offered to send relief supplies, including ventilators, oxygen supply kits, digital X-ray machines and protective gear, as India's health system buckled.

India on Saturday reported a fourth straight global daily record for new infections, after new variants and lax adherence to public health precautions combined to supercharge the country's outbreak.


Nearly 350,000 new cases were reported in the previous 24 hours and nearly 2,800 deaths, though both figures are thought to be severe undercounts.

Announcing the aid offer as a "gesture of solidarity", Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said: "We believe in a policy of humanity first."
The neighbours, whose populations between them comprise a fifth of humanity, came close to war as recently as 2019 when their air forces fought dogfights over Kashmir.

The two sides have continued to trade small arms and artillery fire over the heavy-militarised frontier between them.

Yet, in early March, the two sides' militaries agreed to a ceasefire, sparking hopes that relations between the long-term adversaries could thaw.

"Humanity transcends religion and nationality at a time of death and disease," said Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party.
"Prayers for the people of India devastated by Covid-19. I hope better sense prevails and South Asian countries can focus on ensuring healthcare of our people instead of spending billions on destroying each other."

Social media tags expressing sympathy and solidarity with India have been trending in Pakistan.
Shoaib Akhtar, the former Pakistan fast bowler, called for global support for India.
"It's a pandemic, we are all in it together," he said.
Farhan Saeed, a singer and television actor, said: "All our prayers with the Indian people in these difficult times. May Allah make it easier for India and the entire world. Know that we are praying for you."
Pakistan is enduring its own surge of cases and there are worries that the horrific scenes in India may be a foretaste of the situation to come.
The government tightened restrictions late last week and said it would deploy the army to ensure people abide by distancing and mask precautions.
Infections are currently close to their highest rate of the pandemic and wards in parts of Punjab province are close to full.
Officials have warned they may have to go further if cases continue to rise and lock down the worst affected cities. Mr Khan has repeatedly opposed such measures because he says they would pitch large numbers of labourers into destitution and starvation.
On Friday, he pleaded with the public to take notice of the precautions "so that we don't have to take steps that India is taking, which means imposing lockdowns. Half the problem is solved when you wear face masks."

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