Pakistan Left ‘Red Faced’ After Indian MEA Mocks PM Imran Khan’s Economic Assistance Offer

Pakistan has expressed disappointment after Indian Ministry of External Affairs’ spokesperson mocked PM Imran Khan’s offer to share Pakistan’s expertise on lessening the economic impact of the COVID-19 on low-income groups.

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Citing a report that found nearly a third of all Indian households would not be able to support themselves beyond a week without support, Khan offered to share the workings of the Ehsaas programme to help New Delhi dispense cash to those affected.

In a statement issued by India’s MEA, India snubbed PM Imran’s offer and said – “Pakistan would do well to recall that they have a debt problem which covers 90% of their GDP. As far as India goes, our stimulus package is as large as the GDP of Pakistan,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, rejecting the offer.

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The Pakistan Foreign Office was left disappointed by “negative remarks by the MEA spokesperson regarding a goodwill suggestion by the prime minister to share Pakistan’s successful experience in ameliorating the impact of COVID-19 on the poorest sections of the society,” in a statement issued on Friday.

“Remarks by the MEA spokesperson reflect an unprofessional attempt at point-scoring over a serious issue that involves the lives of millions of poor people in the subcontinent, worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the FO statement noted

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The FO claimed that PM Khan’s proposal was in light of a study carried out by experts of the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago and the Mumbai-based Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy, which emphasized the impact of lockdown in India post COVID-19.

Earlier, Imran Khan had tweeted a news report highlighting the suffering of a section amongst the poor in India due to the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and he claimed that his government was willing to help with its “successful cash transfer programme”, which he insisted was recognised internationally.

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“The prime minister’s offer at this challenging time was in consonance with the initiative for sharing national experiences among South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries in dealing with the impact of Covid-19. If that intent was serious, then the MEA’s response to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s suggestion is inconsistent with the stated position of their own leadership,” stated the FO.