| Imran Khan hints smart lockdowns in coming days | Says Pakistanis can defeat virus by following SOPs | 30 out of 110 Parliament House staff test positive

ISLAMABAD         -        Reiterating that Pakistan can defeat COVID-19 pandemic provided people strictly follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Prime Minister Imran Khan, on Friday, underscored role of Corona Relief Tiger Force in creating public awareness precautionary measures to avoid another lockdown in the country.

“Even now, if the people are made to take precautions and follow SOPs, I am sure we will not have to go through tough times that other countries are going through,” the prime minister said while addressing the volunteers of Corona Relief Tigers Force.

Imran Khan said volunteers were needed to sensitize public about precautionary measures during gradual opening of lockdown.

He said many people needed awareness and guidance to follow the SOPs including social distancing and care. Imran Khan also said, “Corona is to spread. And, we can’t stop the spread of the virus.” He said by putting people behind the doors, we can only slow the spread of the virus.

He said the volunteers also guided people offering prayers in mosques, due to which, the number of new cases reduced at the places of worship.

He said Allah Almighty had showered His great blessing on Pakistan by protecting it against the much apprehended bad times, for which, he lauded the role of the people as well as his team for assessing the situation and making right decisions.

He said Pakistan was the only Islamic country to allow Tarawih congregations during the Holy Ramzan and due to the Ulema’s cooperation, the country had not seen any breakout from mosques.

The prime minister said the government would need the Tiger Force’s support to apprise the people on the importance of SOPs at the shops, markets and industries, which were opened subject to the adherence to certain conditions.

In that regard, the Tigers also played a positive role by visiting the mosques and making the people follow the guidelines, he added, while exemplifying and the necessity of the volunteers force. Around 35,000 volunteers turned up to work in Italy and 60,000 in the UK, but in Pakistan, over a million had so far  registered and about 175,000 came to work, which showed a great passion among the Pakistani people to offer voluntary services.

The Prime Minister said as a result of precautionary measures, the death toll in Pakistan was far less than many other countries of the world.

The prime minister said Brazil had touched the mark of 1,300 deaths in a day, the United States 2,000 plus, and as many in the UK and European countries, but Pakistan was lucky to have recorded only 1,700 deaths in over three months.

He told the volunteers that the government would constantly keep them updated about the situation and their role.

The government might seal some coronavirus hotspots in future and in such a case, the Corona Tigers would have to play their role to ensure food supply and other services to support the city administration.

The prime minister said the spike of the coronavirus could be slowed down if the volunteers succeeded to aware and make the people follow the SOPs.

He reiterated that the poor people would be the biggest casualty if the government reverted to the lockdown.

Imran Khan said the services of volunteers would be needed in areas where smart lockdowns would be implemented in the coming days. Secondly, they will also work along district administration in efforts to control the locust.  He said services of volunteers would also be utilized in tree plantation under Clean and Green Pakistan program. Imran Khan said medical community across the world was facing pressure, which our people could help avoid if they strictly followed the SOPs. He said lockdowns impact the livelihoods of people and poor countries were grappling with this situation.  He said that poverty had increased even in the developed countries where the people were seen queued up to receive food. Similarly, he said, the poverty graph surged in India where strict lockdown resulted in millions of people going unemployed.

The Prime Minister said the effective steps taken by the government had been appreciated by the Asian Development Bank. He said under Ehsaas program emergency cash disbursements were made to the needy and eligible people.

Referring to economic situation of the country, the Prime Minister said the corona pandemic came at a time when the country was getting out of economic crisis due to prudent policies adopted by the government.

He said the government had paid more than 5,000 billion rupees in interest for the loans taken by previous governments. He said the government would reduce expenditures in order to cope with the situation.

The country on Friday reported highest number of infections with 4896 new coronavirus cases as the nationwide tally swells to 89,249. These include 33144 in Punjab, 33536 in Sindh, 11,890 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 5582 in Balochistan, 3946 in Islamabad, 852 in Gilgit Baltistan and 299 in Azad Kashmir.

On the other hand, the death toll from the virus stands at 1,838 with 68 deaths reported over the last twenty four hours. Some 22,812 corona tests were also carried out during this period. At least 31,198 patients have so far recovered from the disease. 

PM reaffirms commitment to promote job-producing sectors

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday reaffirmed his government’s commitment to promote sectors that produce youth employment and boost the economic process.

The premier gave these remarks while chairing a high-level meeting on Budget 2020-21 here in Islamabad on Friday. The Prime Minister said it has been government’s priority since day one to reduce non-developmental expenditures especially non-essential government spending. He said giving special attention on promoting this aim is need of the hour in current context.

Imran Khan said corona pandemic has impacted every segment of the society and as a result the efforts to stabilize and develop the economy have been compromised.

Deliberating on subsidies in various sectors and provision of assistance by the government, the Prime Minister said governmental subsidy is in fact tax payers’ money and therefore requires the best and optimal use of this money to achieve the desired results. Imran Khan said current economic situation demands that reforms process is expedited in order to reduce unnecessary burden on people and to provide them relief.