LAHORE           -              Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Sunday said that the lockdown had its economic implication and the whole world was divided on its imposition as a tool of containing the deadly virus. 

“The world is now resorting to smart lockdown which eases off in areas having less cases of COVID-19”, he said while talking to the media persons after his visit to the Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS).

The foreign minister also handed over Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the medical professionals on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

Responding to a question, Mr Qureshi said that COVID-19 pandemic was a long battle and it might take six months or more to defeat the deadly virus. He said the lockdown had its pros and cons and should be imposed with caution.

“The government has to fight a dual battle against coronavirus as well as hunger”, he said, adding that the traders were wary of the economic impacts of the pandemic and wanted the lockdown to be relaxed for the economy to stay stable.

He said the government would evolve a national strategy based on the holistic picture of the coronavirus situation, adding that it was also to be seen whether country’s healthcare system will be able to absorb the pressure as it had few number of ventilators.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan believed that a government cannot be oblivious of the economic impacts on the people in its decision to impose lockdown. The FM said Prime Minister Imran Khan was well conversant with the day-to-day situation on the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Talking about economic challenges in view of the forecast that world economy will see 3 percent contraction the foreign minister said that the economic slide was sure to effect Pakistan’s and other economies. He said the economic slow-down would deplete country’s foreign reserves. He added that Pakistani labour in the Middle East was laid off as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

To a question about Indian attitude in times of pandemic, the foreign minister termed it a callous state which had had not mended its ways despite the global pandemic and unleashed a new wave of brutalities against the hapless Kashmiris in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. He deplored that the Indian forces were invading the homes, killing Kashmiris shamelessly and not even returning the dead bodies to the families. He also urged the UN Secretary General to take notice of India's intensified persecution campaign in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

He said he had written to the president of the Security Council and was in close contact with the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) on the Kashmir issue. He said Pakistan even accepted India’s call for a conference of the health experts in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and hosted the meeting of the SAARC health experts.

About the Chinese support, the FM Qureshi thanked Chinese government and the people for their support, adding that the country was ready to learn from the best practices from all the countries to defeat the virus.To a question about accountability of sugar mafia, Qureshi said that Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) believed in across the board accountability and the forensic audit report on sugar would be made public in three weeks’ time.

FM appreciated the services and sacrifices of the medical professionals in their fight against COVID-19 at home and abroad. He also hailed the two British-Pakistani doctors who laid their lives in their fight against coronavirus as part of the National Health Services (NHS) in the United Kingdom.

The foreign minister said the Pakistani medical professionals across the globe had made the nation proud and they served as the ambassadors of the country at the foreign lands.About protest by coronavirus patients at Expo Centre Coronavirus Field Hospital, the largest quarantine in City with a capacity of 1,250 patients, he said that Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar would look into it and redress the problems, faced by the patients.