Ray of hope
Assistance offered by the US, Pakistan and other countries in these testing times could help deepen India’s relation with them
As the world in general, and India in particular, is grappling to overcome the COVID-19 crisis of monstrous proportions, the National Security Advisor (NSA) of the United States of America, Jack Sullivan called up (April 25) his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval expressing deep sympathy for the people of India due to an unprecedented surge in the corona cases. This telephonic conversation, high in quality and substance, saw Jack Sullivan assuring that India and the US will work jointly for the already existing seven-decade-old healthy partnership existing between the two big democracies.
This talk between the two NSAs, followed up by a call by President Joe Biden, has put at rest all the speculations that the US was not inclined to help India at this critical juncture. The US President, the NSA and other US officials holding key positions assured India rather convincingly that the US is sending specific raw material urgently required in India for the manufacture of Covishield vaccine. The US administration further said that it has already identified supplies of therapeutic and diagnostic test kits, personal protection equipment (PPE) kits, oxygen generator equipment and allied supplies, ventilators and linked items of life-saving nature. The US DFC, in the meantime, has also announced funding to India's vaccine manufacturer Biological E to produce at least one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022. Additionally, the US is also to deploy an expert team of public health advisors from the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and USAID to extend support.
Both the Indian and the US NSAs will remain in close touch. Later, Jack Sullivan also tweeted about the US's determined support for India. President Biden also pledged support to India on social media to tide over the ongoing health crisis. Such a development marks a visible move by the US to help India in an all-out manner. Apart from these, US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin has directed his department to extend maximum support to India to overcome the prevailing monumental health challenges. Meanwhile, the US congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and representative Pramila Jayapal have also urged for extending all-out support to India — both moral and material, to meet the corona menace.
In a related development, the EU, the UK and several other European countries including Denmark have assured all possible help. However, most significantly, a loud call for help to India from Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has caught the attention of many who have also expressed his country's solidarity in helping India at this moment of serious challenge. Similar offers of help are also seen on social media from Pakistan to extend a helping hand. Some knowledgeable quarters reckon that this is a golden opportunity for Pakistan to warm up to India as in past India too had offered help to Pakistan in various natural calamities and catastrophe in Pakistan. Pakistan and India are already believed to be engaged in a thaw through backchannel diplomacy towards restoring the status of ceasefire. There has been some restraint in criticising each other in recent times or on any belligerent stance with aggressive tenor. These think tanks believe that both India and Pakistan can jointly combat this health crisis. The iron is hot and opportunity cannot be missed. In sum, recently noticed Pakistani gestures could be capitalised for the larger interest of peace, bringing down temperatures. On its part, Pakistan can give up its stand on Kashmir for restoration of pre-August 5, 2019 status as it looks to be bereft of reality. An understanding on both sides, displaying maturity could usher in peace and prosperity on both sides of the border.
The US help to India, triggered initially by the talks between the two NSAs, and now the offer by Pakistan offering solidarity, raise a ray of hope in these depressing times.
The writer is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to the PM of Mauritius. Views expressed are personal