ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate Defence Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed rejected demonization of China, saying that August 24 report by 17 US intelligence agencies failed to trace origins of the coronavirus or lay blame on China, and despite this China is being demonised through a politically-motivated campaign.
“West needs to adopt China’s approach for equitable distribution of vaccines as a ‘global public good’, and halting vaccine nationalism through a ‘Vaccines Without Borders’ initiative plus reset of priorities, focusing on health, population planning, climate change, food security and water Security,” he said while addressing a webinar organized by Pakistan-China Institute (PCI), a first of its kind on “Covid-19 Origin and International Cooperation” under its flagship event series, “Friends of Silk Road (FOSR)”.
The webinar examined reports and analyses about the origins of the Coronavirus pandemic. The webinar was attended by over 50 online participants from Asia and Africa, and featured six panelists, including Ambassador to UN Munir Akram, Naghmana Hashmi, former-Ambassador to China, Chairman Senate Defence Committee, Hasaan Khawar, Public Policy Expert, Hassan Daud Butt, CEO KP Board of Investment and Trade, and Dr Manzoor Ahmed, former Ambassador to WTO. This dialogue was moderated by Mustafa Hyder Sayed, Executive Director Pakistan-China Institute.
The webinar discussed report of the 17 US intelligence agencies presented to President Biden on August 24, which remained “inconclusive” regarding the origins of the Coronavirus pandemic. This followed the March 13 Joint Report of experts from WHO and China, comprising almost 20 experts from over a dozen countries, which said it is “extremely unlikely” that the Corona pandemic was a leak from a lab. Speaking in the webinar, Senator Mushahid Hussain mentioned how President Trump coined the term ‘China Virus’. “Such ethnic targeting is similar to racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism”, he added.
He uncovered the prevailing Cold-War mentality prevailing in the US, which has tried to link the virus to Asians, “causing a spike of 169% in hate crimes against Asian-Americans.”
Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, called the politicization of tracing the origins of the virus a ‘regrettable move’, and said the efforts have been tainted by ‘conspiracy theories and smear campaigns.’ “This has set a wrong precedent by exploiting the WHO as a ‘tool for political maneuvering.”
About close cooperation of China with WHO to trace the origins of the virus, Ambassador Akram advised that only way forward out of this misinformation epidemic is through “science, as origin tracing, trust science, stay away from prejudice and politics.”
Hassan Khawar, public policy expert, highlighted how the pandemic has taken more than 4 million lives, while continuing to wreak havoc throughout the world. He said that despite efforts to find the origins of the virus during the last two years, there is no scientific evidence to blame China. Talking about the way forward, Khawar said, “We need all countries to come together for research, and only then will we be able to find the origins of the virus.”
Ambassador Naghmana Hashmi, former Ambassador of Pakistan to China during the onset of the pandemic, called Covid-19 a ‘politically-charged virus’ that has increased global competition, and created two blocs in global system; one which alleges the virus was created in a Wuhan lab, whereas other thinks that it was created in a lab in Maryland, US.
Ambassador Naghmana also shed light on how the virus started an international debate on capitalism versus ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ to see which system was better.