Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said Pakistan endorses a declaration made by the Chinese President Xi Jinping during a conference on Wednesday, aimed at making Covid-19 vaccines a global public good, dispel notions of stigmatisation, and reject “vaccine nationalism”, according to a handout issued by the Foreign Office on Thursday.
“Vaccine nationalism” is among a few new phrases that have emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic, referring to governments entering agreements with vaccine manufacturers to supply their own populations with doses before they are available to other countries. It also refers to governments, particularly in the West, selectively approving vaccines green-lighted by the World Health Organisation.
The virtual conference on Belt and Road Cooperation hosted by China was organised to stress global cooperation in combating the pandemic to support economic resilience; and promoting a “Green Silk Road” for sustainable development. The conference was attended by ministers from 30 countries.
Qureshi, speaking during the conference, highlighted that fruitful cooperation in combating Covid-19 for timely economic rebound would require sharing experiences and best practices; enhancing the availability, accessibility and affordability of vaccines through joint research and production; and calling for preferential financing from multilateral development institutions for developing countries.
“We should make collective endeavours to ensure equitable and affordable supply of vaccine to developing countries,” he added.
The foreign minister further said that “the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic were a great opportunity not only to rebuild better, but also greener.” He stressed that “we must seize this opportunity to transform our economies into ones that are development-oriented and environmentally sustainable.”
He called upon the developed countries to fulfill their commitments under the Paris Agreement to support developing countries in their climate action and to mobilise $100 billion annually in climate finance as they had promised.
Qureshi underlined that Pakistan followed a ‘smart lockdowns’ policy and adopted the three-pronged strategy focused on “saving lives” and stimulating the economy to successfully fight the pandemic.
He told the conference that the Pakistan government disbursed Rs203 billion among 15 million families through its Ehsas Emergency Cash Programme. He also underlined that Pakistan had launched a vaccination drive that will cover 70 million people by December 2021.
He went on to say that Pakistan had also launched the ‘Green Economic Stimulus Initiative’ that already generated 85,000 green jobs and “it is planned to increase them by another 100,000 jobs by year-end,” he added.
The foreign minister emphasised Pakistan’s shift of focus from geo-politics to geo-economics. He added that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, complemented Pakistan’s efforts of geo-economic shift with emphasis on economic integration and regional connectivity.