Unprecedented times are resulting in unexpected changes in geopolitical equations. At a time when two made in India vaccines are quite literally saving the world as India is sending vaccines to the countries which need it the most, no country can afford to be in the crosshairs of India especially given the fact that the country will have two more vaccine candidates by the end of 2021. In a surprising turn of events, Pakistan is now “extending the hand of peace” to India perhaps in order to convince India to donate the cash strapped country a handful of Made in India vaccines.
Pakistan’s de-facto ruler, General Qamar Bajwa has managed to send the diplomatic circles buzzing after he decided to tone down his anti-India rhetoric as he stated, “it is time to extend a hand of peace in all directions.”
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of Pakistan Air Force cadets, the Pakistan Army Chief said, “Pakistan and India must also resolve the longstanding issue of Jammu and Kashmir in a dignified and peaceful manner as per the aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir and bring this human tragedy to its logical conclusion.”
It is an anomaly when a Pakistan Army Chief publicly states to resolve Kashmir in a peaceful manner as the entire existence of Pakistan is based on anti-India activities and the futile cause of ‘liberating’ Kashmir from India.
There is no doubt that Bajwa’s decision to extend the hand of peace to India is in order to convince the latter to donate vaccines to Pakistan which till now has only a handful of questionable Chinese vaccines.
It is pertinent to note that India has donated made in India vaccines to its neighbourhood – Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Unsurprisingly, Pakistan didn’t make it to the list thanks to its constant support and harbouring of terrorists.
Such is Pakistan’s predicament that with a population of 220 million people, the Imran Khan government has made arrangements to procure a paltry of 1.1 million coronavirus vaccine doses from a Chinese firm. Additionally, the doses are earmarked only for the frontline workers and the vulnerable population raising serious questions over the Imran Khan government’s ability to procure the cure for its citizens.
While countries across the world move at a breakneck speed to procure the cure, Pakistan, as usual, is reliant on donations from the United Nations to receive 45 million vaccine doses at no cost. Even then, the country will only be able to vaccinate 20 per cent of its population. For the remaining population, Pakistan is hoping to secure Made in India vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin through bilateral agreements and third countries.
Through the global vaccine alliance headed by the United Nations, Pakistan is all set to receive made in India – Covishield vaccine but clearly the doses aren’t going to be enough and Pakistan has no option but to lay down at India’s feet to get vaccines.
In fact, the Pakistan government has left its populace in the hands of the private sector as it has allowed the private companies to procure vaccine doses from around the world, get it registered from the country’s drug regulatory authority and then proceed to sell the doses to the people who can afford.
In the absence of made in India vaccines, Pakistan will have no option but to entirely rely on the unapproved and poor quality Chinese vaccines and thereby risk the health of its populace. Bajwa’s statements will have no real impact in the bilateral relations between the two countries unless Pakistan takes solid steps in curbing anti-India activities and terrorists who are hustling and bustling on its land.