LAHORE - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday expressed optimism that Pakistan will come out of corona pandemic situation successfully with the resolve and discipline of the nation.

Addressing the ceremony of ration distribution and relief fund at Governor House in Lahore on Saturday, he said COVID-19 pandemic is a test and difficult situation for the nation and people can overcome it through precautionary measures.

The Prime Minister said this situation is more difficult due to the fact that no one across the world has the experience to cope with it. He said the US government gave a relief package of 2000 billion dollars to stimulate its economy in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, but they are still struggling.

He said in comparison our government gave a relief package worth 8 billion dollars according to our resources, which is the biggest in our history. The Prime Minister said this package will be further enhanced when more resources become available. Imran Khan said, “We are facing the dual challenge of spread of coronavirus and unemployment due to lockdown.”

He said fifty to sixty million people in the country live under the poverty line and are suffering due to lockdown. He said we have lifted restriction of lockdown on construction and agricultural sectors in order to enable people to be gainfully employed and earn their livelihood.

The Prime Minister said transparency and merit will be strictly observed in distribution of cash among the needy persons. He said the government is collecting comprehensive data in order to ensure the eligibility of people. The Prime Minister said Facebook page of the Ehsaas program will be launched next week, detailing the data of areas where people most need the rations.

Earlier, the Prime Minister Imran Khan visited a quarantine facility set up at Expo center in Lahore which has the capacity of about 1,000 persons. He visited different sections of the facility and was briefed by Punjab health minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid.

Later, addressing a ceremony of the Corona Relief Tiger Force in Lahore, the Prime Minister Imran Khan said the people will remember only those who serve their countrymen and we will emerge successful nation after this pandemic. He said the nation fully supports those who are standing with masses in this hour of need. He directed PTI MPAs and MNAs to remain active in their constituencies and help their people.

Earlier, speaking at the ceremony, the Governor Punjab Chaudhary Muhammad Sarwar said that Prime Minister Imran Khan gave a historic package for poor needy and deprived segment of society. He said that all patients are treated at Shaukat Khanam Memorial Cancer Hospital without any discrimination. He said that the donated ration will be distributed transparently.

Earlier, while speaking at the fund raising ceremony, he said that Pakistan was amongst top charity giving nations and now it was time to support government efforts of enabling the poor to make both ends meet.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood, and special assistants Dr Sania Nishtar, Shahzad Akbar and Usman Dar, Governor Ch Muhammad Sarwar, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, representatives from the charity and welfare organizations and philanthropists were also present.

Philanthropists made donations through cheques or rations supplies. The PM arrived in the City in the afternoon and spent a busy day. He was given briefing on the steps taken for controlling spread of virus and treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Imran Khan warned that it might be a long drawn fight and urged the nation to adopt a careful behavior. He cited the conditions in New York City which was a home to billionaires with huge resources. He said that containing the virus and looking after the vulnerable segments of the society simultaneously was a gigantic task which could be fulfilled with the help charity giving nation.

He said that more than 100 million people had already been affected due to the lockdown and the numbers could increase in coming days. He said that number of philanthropists had increased with different show biz personalities and sportsmen giving donations. He termed this charity giving quality as the biggest power of the nation. He urged parliamentarians and politicians to continue sharing their responsibility and come forward in this critical time. He promised that the donations would reach the deserving people in a transparent manner without any political influence. He hoped that nation would face challenges with patience and courage. “We will emerge as stronger nation after getting out of the prevailing crises”, he said, adding, good people always faced hard times without seeking a shortcut.

“It is a testing time for the nation. It is indeed a difficult time as no one had the experience of dealing with coronavirus. Insha Allah, the nation will be a different one after overcoming the crises,” he said, adding, the pandemic had already collapsed rich countries with strong institutions and perfect healthcare system. He said the US had announced a relief package of more than 2000 billion dollars. “We have announced 8 billion dollar relief package due to the limited resources”, he added.

He said that 50-60 million people were living below the poverty line. He said that the same numbers were on the verge of this line.

He regretted that the purpose for which Pakistan was created could not be fully realized. “Pakistan came into being on the principles of Islamic welfare state as envisioned by Allama Iqbal”, he said, adding, State of Madina was a role model amongst world civilizations. “Welfare state takes responsibility of looking after its vulnerable population. The same reflection was manifested by binding the Muhajirs with Ansar”, he said.

The PM promised utilizing all available resources to support the vulnerable segments in this difficult time. He said that government’s biggest package would be followed by more.

 

He said that all efforts were being made to protect the daily wagers, rickshaw drivers, carts owners, labourers and others sitting at homes due to the prevailing crises. He said that agriculture and opening of construction sector would help people to earn livelihood in difficult times. He said that the government was evaluating the situation closely. In case of cluster outbreak, he said, the government would go for lockdown but after ensuring supply of food in those areas. He said that the number of Corona Relief Tiger force had reached six lacs which would be utilized to deal with such situations. He said that a Facebook page would be launched soon to get feedback from the people suffering from the difficult situation and contributions announced by the organizations.

 

Also, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that reports circulating on social media that the coronavirus will not affect Pakistanis were false, cautioning that the disease will not spare anyone.

“I read often on social media that Allah has created Pakistanis in a way that corona won’t affect them. Please don’t delude yourselves into thinking like this. Corona won’t spare anyone,” Imran Khan said while speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Prime Minister’s Corona Relief Fund in Lahore.

The premier asked people to not be “foolish” and advised them to take the necessary precautions against Covid-19. “If you think you are immune, just look at New York. Many rich people live there [but] look at their condition now.”