ISLAMABAD - Chairman Standing Committee on Interior Senator Rehman Malik, on Monday,  said that the nation needed a result-oriented parliamentary session on the coronavirus pandemic. He said that the steps by the federal government were non-serious and the advice of World Health Organization was not being followed in markets, streets and other public places. He advised the Prime Minister to deal the Coronavirus as per WHO’s SOPs. He said that he wished the government had followed his 37 points Anti-Coronavirus National Action Plan proposed earlier on February 27th, when only two cases were confirmed across the country. The senator said that his 37 Points Anti-Coronavirus National Action Plan contained complete SOP s and was approved by the Senate Standing Committee on Interior and was handed over to Secretary Health, all provincial governments and all concerned departments.

He said that the situation would have been far different and better if those 37 points were followed in true letter and spirit. He said that neither he was criticizing nor was playing any blame game but being the Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior, he felt that it would be his failure in performing national duty if he did not point out the mistakes. He said that survival was in complete lockdown and there was nothing called smart lockdown in the law. Discussion on Force Majeure Law in Parliament: Senator A. Rehman Malik reinforced his proposal to discuss in the Senate session to invoke the Force Majeure Law to get relief on external debt. In this regard, he wrote to opposition leader in Senate Raja Zafar ul Haq and Advisor for Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Babar Awan to consider supporting his two Resolutions in the Senate Session that would commence on May 12, 2020.

He said that the Senate session was being summoned in very difficult moments when the nation was confronting deadly coronavirus and therefore the session should be meaningful and result-oriented. He said that he had already submitted two resolutions to the Senate Secretariat and had also written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan suggesting that the international financial institutions should be requested under Force Majeure Law for deferment of repayments and loans in wake of the adverse effects of coronavirus on Pakistan’s economy.

The Senator said that his resolutions for seeking a debate on invoking the Force Majeure Law and advising the government to not take further foreign loans were purely in the national interest and must not be treated as resolutions from the opposition.

In his letter to opposition leader in the Senate Raja Zafar ul Haq and Advisor on Parliamentary Affairs, Senator Rehman Malik highlighted the importance of invoking the ‘Force Majeure Law’ and urged that while taking it as a matter of greater national and common interest, his resolutions may be adopted by the house after a thorough discussion and due diligence.

With his letter, Senator Rehman Malik also attached the 37-points report of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior which was made part of the proceeding of the suo moto case on coronavirus by Supreme Court of Pakistan. Both the resolutions, one seeking the Senate debate on invoking of Force-Majeure Law by the government to write off Pakistan foreign debts and the second resolution advising the government to avoid taking further new foreign debts on Coronavirus were also sent to them.

Senator Malik wrote to the leader of the opposition that getting the above two resolutions passed from both the houses in the upcoming Senate and National Assembly sessions would give good strength and backup support to the government to negotiate the best package from international creditors to write-off our foreign debts.

In his letters, he expressed that at the end of the day, the public would like to know as to what did we achieve from this special session hence, he requested that we must do some legislation on epidemic for creating national SOPs and for improvement of the health sector to raise our status from 154th bottom position to at least first 10 by improving it.

Importance of Force Majeure Law to Write-Off Foreign Debts: Senator Rehman Malik said the force majeure clause typically applied in cases of a natural disaster, an ‘act of God’ such as an earthquake or pandemic, war or terrorist attacks, or government policy or law changes, or a third party who failed in the provision of goods or services. Force majeure was put into place in order to protect parties from external variables out of their control, he added. He said the force majeure law was the most suitable tool to get the foreign loans written off or seeking a 10-year deferment on repayments.

He said as the production units, services industries, airlines, and exports were closed due to the pandemic and all revenue generating sources were drying up rapidly, Pakistan would be having major adverse effects of the global economic meltdown which would be far worse than post 9/11.

Malik said that it was his national duty to point out to parliament, government, and opposition that we were being pushed to a recession by Covid-19.