ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that Pakistan is among the few countries that have largely controlled the Covid-19 pandemic in a short period.

In a televised address to the nation, the Prime Minister said the deaths reported due to the coronavirus yesterday were the lowest in the last three months.

He said that with a continuous declining trend of coronavirus cases in the country, the pressure on hospitals has reduced.

He said that the PTI government was the first that adopted the policy of smart lockdown, which proved successful. He said other countries replicated this policy.

Imran Khan said that the countries that enforced complete lockdown, such as India, suffered a lot in respect of increase in poverty. He, however, warned of a spike in the coronavirus cases if people failed to follow the predetermined standard operating procedures (SOPs) on the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha and the holy month of Muharram.

The Prime Minister’s comments came almost three weeks after he advised people not to repeat “what they did on Eid-ul-Fitr” and exercise extra caution on Eid-ul-Azha so that a resurgence of the coronavirus could be avoided. The premier said that Pakistan’s strategy to tackle the virus had to be different as a big majority of daily wagers in the country were unregistered. “About 70-80 percent of labourers in our country are not registered; therefore, our approach had to be different from than European countries” the premier noted. He said, “We could not take any drastic step like imposing curfew. We were afraid that more people will die from starvation and poverty than the coronavius itself”.

He said that India is now suffering the results of their decisions and the people are suffering in the neighbourhood.

The world is admitting and accepting that lockdown was not the only solution to the virus situation, the prime minister stressed, adding that Pakistan was also focusing on the agricultural sector as “we do not want any distortion and disruption in the food supply.”

Imran Khan lamented the criticism for reopening the construction sector but underlined that “we took the risk and set our priorities straight to save the people from hunger and poverty”.

He added that the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme was rolled out as part of the party’s agenda to provide cushion to the vulnerable segment of the society.

“There’s no precedent of the Ehsaas programme in the world, where the impoverished segment of the society was aided through transparent and synchronised operations.”

“Even when we were imposing smart lockdown, we implemented the lockdown strategically with clusters,” he commented.

The prime minister went on to thank his team for their efforts in tackling the crisis, saying: “I want to credit my team for pulling off such results. After three months, Pakistan has reported the lowest fatality rate comparatively to the past.”

He said, “We need to understand that the world is still experimenting with strategies to curb the virus. It has also been observed that if countries do not vigilantly make strategies for the post-pandemic world, the virus may return with a peak in the countries.

“We have example of Australia, Iran, and other countries where the virus has returned and the spike of cases are reported once again,” he explained.

The Prime Minister again stressed for people to heed the SOPs in the upcoming days, noting: “If we will not be cautious during the Eid ul Adha and Muharram period, we might again see a spike of cases that will be devastating for the country.

“We have the example of Eid-ul-Fitr, where we were reluctant to abide by the SOPs, the frontline workers were hugely impacted and we saw a surge in cases,” the PM remarked.

He said that our research suggested that the most effective measure to keep the virus at bay was to wear face masks. It is quite simple and an easy preventive measure to adopt.

“I am once again asking you all to be careful about the SOPS during the Eid-ul-Azha period,” he urged. “If the nation will cooperate, we have to resume our main sectors of the country including business, construction, and tourism.”

“We have to come back to normalcy. We will resume schools, universities, and restaurants if the numbers for the virus keep on declining. We have to battle the disease collectively as a nation, together,” the prime minister said.

 

 

 

 

Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the chief secretaries of all provinces to accelerate action against elements involved in wheat hoarding and evolve a mutual mechanism for bringing uniformity in the prices of wheat and flour throughout the country.

Chairing a review meeting about the availability of flour and sugar and their prices here on Monday, the prime minister also directed for ensuring provision of flour at reasonable price across the country.

He said the process of importing wheat at official level besides by the private sector should be accelerated to ensure profuse availability of wheat in the market.

He said all the chief secretaries should adopt a joint strategy with mutual consultations to ensure uniform prices of wheat and flour across the country.

The Prime Minister said special attention should also be given to ensure availability of sugar at affordable price.

He said it should be ensured that crushing process by sugar mills is started at an appropriate time, and no delay is committed in this regard.  He said that planning and arrangements should also be made to import sugar, if needed.

The prime minister was apprised that the government of Punjab had been supplying more than 15,000 metric tonnes wheat to four mills on daily basis.

The chief secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa informed that the government had procured 80,000 metric tonnes wheat from PASCO whereas an agreement for procurement of additional 100,000 metric tonnes wheat had been reached.

The prime minister was told that due to the release of wheat by the concerned government sector, the availability of wheat had improved; besides, a positive impact was witnessed with regard to its prices.

A report entailing actions against elements involved in hoarding of wheat was also submitted before the prime minister.

The meeting also reviewed progress on import of 150,000 metric tonnes of wheat by the government and private sector.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Industries Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz, Advisor on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Special Assistant to PM on Information Lt. Gen. (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa and secretaries of the concerned ministries. The provincial chief secretaries attended the meeting via video link.