GILGIT: Kashmiri leaders from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit Baltistan, who are now living in exile, have strongly supported Prime Minister Narender Modi's leadership in India's fight against COVID-19.

Dr. Amjad Ayub Mirza, a political leader from PoK, who is living in Glasgow said, "It is a highly commendable act that Prime Minister Modi has announced a 'Janatha Curfew' on Sunday to combat coronavirus," adding, "Modi's leadership is to be noted."

He said the situation in Pakistan, however, remains out of control due to lack of leadership and no national action plan. COVID-19 patients are being sent to Pakistan occupied Kashmir for isolation which is totally unacceptable since it will accelerate the spread of the virus in the region.

He said: "The border between China and Gilgit Baltistan should be closed as the spread of coronavirus in the region is raging."

There is a serious lack of quarantine facilities as well as test kits. A young doctor from Gilgit by the name of Osama is struggling for his life due to coronavirus while treating patients.

"Hospitals where coronavirus patients are being kept lack basic facilities such as running water or proper toilets," said Dr Mirza.

He added: "Under the current circumstances the border between Gilgit Baltistan and Kargil should be opened and a team of Indian doctors and medical experts should be sent to help us."

More On COVID-19

Senge Hasnan Sering, a political activist from Gilgit Baltistan, who is living in Washington DC, told ANI, "Indian PM Modi is playing a constructive and supportive role as expected from the leader of the world's fourth-largest economy. His policy of 'no citizens left behind' has earned him recognition from opposition parties who are also supporting his Sunday lockdown directive."

He said: "Although Gilgit-Baltistan is a direct neighbour of China's Xinjiang, its inhabitants are getting coronavirus infection transmitted from a completely unexpected location like Iran. When compared with Pakistani provinces and PoK, G-B has the highest number of positive cases in proportion to population size".

Glasgow-based Dr Mirza later emphasised that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project should be put on hold with immediate effect and a 'Janatha Curfew' similar to that initiated by Indian Prime Minister Modi be put in place. PM Modi's decisive leadership should be emulated, he said.

In contrast, the Pakistan government consistently refuses to ensure lockdown and continues with its reckless policy of wait and see.

Dr Mirza said: "So far in Gilgit, more than 21 people are confirmed (figures of those testing positive are being kept a secret) to be infected with coronavirus but the actual figure is much higher. No masks or sanitiser is available in Gilgit Baltistan. I urge people of Ladakh and the Indian government to come to our help".

Both leaders condemned Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's statement that CPEC will continue despite the coronavirus outbreak. They said it was because of the CPEC that COVID-19 is now raging across Pakistan and Iran and it should be a lesson to all nations to stop this highway of a pandemic which is destroying the world.