Pakistan will defeat coronavirus and emerge as a stronger nation: Imran Khan

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday expressed the hope that Pakistan will defeat the coronavirus and emerge as a stronger nation provided the people adopt the recommended precautionary measures and show compassion towards their poor countrymen in the distressing time.

During a telethon hosted by a private television channel to raise donations for the Prime Minister’s Corona Relief Fund, he said the objective of the fund raising is to prepare for the worst situation as the national institutions will not be able to cope with the situation like New York or Iran.

Imran Khan said the people are not still aware of the economic repercussions of the lockdown, which has also compelled the biggest economies to announce relief packages to support their people. The United States has announced a relief package of $2,200 billion, Germany with a population size half of that of Pakistan has announced €1,000 billion and Japan also $1,000 billion, while Pakistan can manage a package of $8 billion only. He said Pakistan does not have enough resources to cope with any worsened situation but it is lucky for being rich with charitable people and a huge young population. He said the government has already launched a Rs 144 billion programme to distribute Rs 12,000 each among around 12 million families, while the public donations are meant to meet the future needs because no one knows when the crisis will be over and what will be the future scenario.

The prime minister warned the people that the corona cases will increase in the coming days and only those maintaining social distancing will remain safe. Taking precautions is the only the solution to defeat the virus because Pakistan’s health system does not have enough ventilators or other required equipment to deal with the crisis. He assured that all the public donations will be used to support the poor as their numbers will be growing continuously owing to the closure of industries and businesses.

He said the government has set up a transparent funds distribution system based on the database of National Database Registration Authority (NADRA). In order to avert the mismanagement experienced during the relief operations after 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods, a web portal will be launched soon to guide the charity organizations as to where they should deliver the relief goods considering the people’s needs.

He said after April 14, the government would open up the construction sector to revive the employment opportunities for the poor people. He said from the very first day, he has been opposing the blanket lockdown owing to its adverse impact on the poor. “There is a difference between the lockdown in DHA or E-7 sector and Machhar Colony and Orangi Town. It will be a joke with the people living in population clusters and slums to maintain social distance and observe cleanliness when they even lack clean drinking water,” he commented.

He said the negative impacts of the lockdown are already emerging in those countries which made the hasty decisions following the Chinese or Western models. He said the Western countries have a registered labour making easy for the governments to extend assistance while almost 80 percent of Pakistan’s labourers are unregistered.

To a question, the prime minister said all of the health workers, particularly those deputed at the ICU (intensive care units) and emergency departments would receive their protective kits within a couple of days and assured them of the government’s full support. He said no single province or government can handle the situation alone rather it requires coordinated efforts and the National Command and Control Committee has the representation of all provinces as well as medical experts to make the coordinated decisions.

The prime minister said the Tiger Force will be utilized to supply ration and identify the poor in their respective areas where there would be lockdown after the detection of corona cases. Even the developed countries like the United Kingdom and the US have announced to engage the volunteers, he added.

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