ISLAMABAD                     -                  Since Coronavirus declared as pandemic, the Opposition lawmakers in Friday’s National Assembly sitting came up with proposals to declare state of emergency, summon joint session for chalking out strategy, close all schools, put temporary ban on gatherings except important meetings.

The government assured the house to contain and control spread of Coronavirus in the country by taking its all possible measures. The lawmakers, suspending rest of agenda, only carried  out debate on Coronavirus and decided to prorogue the 20th session.

Avoid shake-hands, wear mask outside home, keep away from gatherings, shifting special ward of Coronavirus in the hinterland of city, and screening facility at important places including Parliament were the suggestions from MNAs to deal with pandemic disease.

PML-N leader and former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, initiating the debate, demanded of government to convene a joint session of the Parliament to evolve a comprehensive strategy to counter this virus. “Except Sindh and Balochistan, other provinces are not looking serious to deal it,” he said.

PPP-P’s senior MNA Raja Pervaiz Ashraf expressed concerns over screening system at airports of country. “There is need to impose emergency in the country to tackle with pandemic,” he said, citing examples of Italy and Saudi Arabia.

MQM-P’s MNA Amin-ul-Haq demanded of the government to declare State of emergency in wake of coronavirus pandemic. He supported the idea to convene joint session of Parliament.

BNP-Mengal’s MNA Agha Hassan Baloch strongly opposed the plan to give temporary stay arrangement to devotees from Iran as it could cause endemic of Coronavirus in the country. “Around six thousands devotees are being given temporary stay in Quetta, which is dangerous,” he said, mentioning that Balochostan government was itself spreading the virus with its ineligibility to tackle the situation.

Chairman standing committee on interior Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz demanded to make arrangement of screening facility at parliament house, as thousands of people from different parts of country visit this place. PPP-P’s Nafeesa Shah proposed to close schools immediately. “I don’t buy other theories, its man-made and need to control by taking steps,” she said suggesting imposition of national emergency in the country and pure leadership required to deal with it.

Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood , responding to the concerns raised by opposition, assured the house that incumbent government was taking all possible measures to contain and control spread of coronavirus in the country.

“Government is vigilant and closely monitoring and scrutinizing the situation, besides taking appropriate steps to check the pandemic,” he said informing that a quarantine center was established at the Pak-Afghan Border for screening of Pakistani citizens coming from Iran.

Minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is very concerned about this matter. “PM has convened an urgent meeting of National Security Committee this evening to evolve a strategy in this regard,” he said , mentioning that around one million people were screened at different airports of the country while diagnostic kits were provided at various hospitals.  Parliamentary Secretary for National Health Services, Nousheen Hamid, sharing details to counter Coronavirus, said that isolation wards have been established in hospitals of all the big cities of Pakistan. “All possible screening measures are in place at airports and federal government is providing diagnostic kits to provinces,” she said. A daily meeting of all the relevant agencies takes place daily to review an action plan on day-to-day basis against the pandemic.

Parliamentary Secretary on Aviation Division Jamil Ahmed Khan, responding the concerns related to screening at airports, said that Pakistan International Airlines has rescheduled a flight to bring back Pakistan citizens from Saudi Arabia this Sunday. He said the national flag carrier will ensure all possible arrangements to take Pakistani citizens to Saudi Arabia and from there to back home. The lawmakers from Treasury and Opposition condemned the arrest of Editor-in-Chief Jang Group/Geo Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman by NAB authorities.

PML-N’s Shahid Khaqqan said that there was no need of NAB institution in the country and political vendetta should come to end. “Now shakeel ur Rahman has been arrested by NAB,” he said, condemning the arrest of head of Jang group.  PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal termed the 12 March as a black day, as Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman was arrested. He said it was attack on media.

PPP-P’s Raja Pervaiz Ashraf questioned from government to what was the emergency to arrest head of Jang group as he was cooperating with NAB authorities.  MQM-P’s Aminul Haq said that the attest of Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman tantamount to arrest of attack on freedom of Press.