ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Monday said the country’s economy cannot sustain a prolonged lockdown. Speaking at a parliamentary committee meeting, he lauded the efforts being made by each individual in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak.

The foreign minister stressed that it was necessary to focus energies on healthcare and economy in these torrid times. “Pakistan’s economy can’t sustain a prolonged lock down, we must create a balance between the economy and well being of our people,” said FM.  He added: “Prolonged lockdown can be detrimental for the poor strata of the society. I thank God that coronavirus has not wreaked havoc in the country like it has in many others, comparatively Pakistan’s coronavirus numbers are hopeful.”

Qureshi asked authorities to actively address problems being faced by healthcare professionals and urged that they be provided with all the necessary medical and safety equipment to take care of those affected by the dangerous pathogen. He said that the holy month of Ramazan was a crucial time for the country and strict vigilance was required to avoid disaster. “The government is doing its best with the limited resources at its disposal but the main onus lies on the masses and the precautions they take against the virus,” he said.

Afghan leaders have a golden opportunity for durable peace: FM 

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for a peaceful, stable, sovereign, and prosperous Afghanistan,

In a telephonic conversation with Afghanistan’s acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Hanif Atmar, FM Qureshi said the Afghan leadership had a golden opportunity for “durable peace and stability” in the country. He said Islamabad will continue to play its role with sincerity in Afghan peace process. He said Pakistan gives great importance to its ties with Kabul.

“Matters of mutual interest, bilateral ties, coronavirus outbreak and regional peace came under discussion during the telephonic conversation,” said an official statement.

Last week, Pakistan reaffirmed support to United States peace efforts in Afghanistan as US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Resolute Support Mission Commander General Austin Scott Miller met army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The top US officials were in Islamabad for a day-long visit. “In a meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Ambassador Khalilzad and General Miller discussed the United States’ ongoing efforts for a sustainable peace in Afghanistan,” said a US embassy statement.