Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday urged the United States President Donald Trump to lift sanctions on Iran on humanitarian grounds, as the country was worst hit by the recent wave of deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, very high number of coronavirus cases and indeed deaths in Iran – unlike other countries with serious outbreaks – owes also to the country’s inability to buy pharmaceuticals in the international market. The Covid-19 (Corona Virus) situation is so serious in Iran that one person is reportedly dying every ten minutes. The climbing death tally should alone be a sufficient reason for the so-called civilised world and human rights champions to lift sanctions against Iran, if not permanently then at least for the time being to help the country better guard itself against the virus, which recognises no border or ideologies and that, as everybody knows, is because of the heavy sanctions imposed by America. It was hoped, considering how this virus has already changed so much about the whole world so quickly, and there’s still no way of knowing just how much worse things will get, that the Americans would put aside all politics and help contain Iran’s crisis. It was, at least, expected to lift some of the more crippling sanctions till the virus was controlled.
On his Twitter account, the prime minister posted, “I want to appeal to President Trump on humanitarian grounds to lift the sanctions against Iran till the COVID-19 pandemic is over.” He further said the people of Iran were facing untold sufferings as sanctions were crippling Iran’s efforts to fight COVID-19. “Humanity must unite to fight this pandemic,” he added. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has also written letters to world leaders including American people urging them to call on the US Administration to end the dark chapter of sanctions enabling them to better tackle the Corona Virus. Pakistan, China, Russia and the US Secretary General have also made similar calls. But unfortunately up to now these are falling on deaf ears as the US is sticking to its maximum pressure campaign, rather it imposed fresh sanctions the other day. While the US point is that there are no sanctions on medicines going to Iran or on humanitarian assistance but many banks and companies have refrained from taking part in any such ventures out of fear of getting caught up in US’s secondary sanctions. In practice, these sanctions have badly affected not only Iran’s economy but also its entire health sector.
However, Yet Washington has made it clear that it has no such plans, even as the number of deaths in Iran rises to one in every few minutes. Pakistan is doing the right thing by appealing to the international community to help find a way out of this problem. According to some yet unconfirmed reports, Islamabad is also lobbying directly with Washington. If a solution is not found immediately, and the virus keeps spreading and killing like it is, there’s a good chance of Iran’s death figure becoming unimaginably high. And since almost all of the people dying are innocents who have nothing at all to do with politics, one can only wonder why the international community, and the UN, is not pressing upon America how it is effectively promoting murder. This pandemic has already brought the world to its knees. Even the US has begun shutting down. It is not just everybody’s responsibility, but also in everybody’s interest, to help Iran. But the question is whether the US and world at large will continue to see deaths of Iranians out of their geopolitical and ideological differences. Is this humanity or sheer barbarism? In our view, lifting of sanctions will not just serve the US interests to contain further spread of the virus but would also be a powerful humanitarian gesture to more than eighty million Iranians suffering from this pandemic.