Written By Justice Markandey Katju, former Judge, Supreme Court of India, Amile Gulzar, Advocate, Lahore, Pakistan, and Dr. Salfiyah Shamim, a young Kashmiri doctor in Srinagar
The coronavirus has recently witnessed a spike in cases in a densely populated South Asia region, mainly India and Pakistan. It has emerged as a non-traditional security threat, which is common to the nuclear archrivals. This provides an opportunity for both countries to tackle this threat by having a joint and co-operative approach. This would help save more lives than the number of lives lost in this region due to conflicts since 1947. The question is whether this is possible? We submit that it is possible and present our view.
The world has applauded the efforts of Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in tackling the threat in an effective way. Pakistan’s smart lockdown strategy instead of following a full lockdown or curfew, as enforced in India, has proved to be effective. It has not only helped in reducing the number of corona cases but also helped the economy to stand. One must appreciate the Government of Pakistan for offering help to India to overcome the coronavirus by sharing its successful cash transfer program. Unfortunately, the Indian government declined the offer. Had there been a better co-operation and understanding, India would have also benefited from Pakistan’ s successful efforts in tackling this threat.
Both India and Pakistan, have very good scientists and medical experts, many of whom are working in the USA and Europe. For instance, India has several scientists specialized in this field, and Pakistan has experts like, SAPM Dr. Zafar Mirza, who has a long-standing experience of working at national, regional, and global levels in health sectors.
In our opinion, the government of both the countries should set up a joint team of such experts and scientists having expertise in pandemics to do research on a war footing to find out a vaccine/medicine for Covid-19. This team should be given adequate funds and other facilities for their work by both governments.
It must be emphasized that the problem is scientific, and can therefore only be resolved by scientists, not politicians, judges, or administrators. Science is international, not national. Therefore a joint team of scientists of India, Pakistan, and also some other countries should immediately be formed for this purpose. Private entrepreneurs like Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, head of Biocon, should also be included in this team.
There has been a shortage of ventilators in both, India and Pakistan. As per the figures, there are only 48,000 ventilators for 1.3 billion Indian population and only 1650 ventilators for 200 million Pakistan’s population.
This is an alarming situation for which both countries can work together to overcome this hurdle. It has been a great success for Pakistan’s Ministry of Science and Technology in announcing the production of local ventilators. India has given licenses to 3 firms to manufacture ventilators. The relevant ministries of both countries should assist and facilitate each other in overcoming such shortages, at this hour of need.
This non-traditional security threat is not limited to any specific nation, religion, caste, or creed. The leadership of both countries should let go of their egos and traditional rivalries, and try to overcome this crisis as a united front on humanitarian grounds. This would not only help foster better relations between India and Pakistan but also bring regional peace and stability.
(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s own and do not reflect the opinions or views of The Rational Daily.)