ISLAMABAD               -         Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday has urged the nation to get united to make the fight against coronavirus successful. In his address to the nation on Monday night, the Prime Minister said the world is fighting against the coronavirus according to their capacity.

He said the only country that has remained successful so far in this struggle is China that put 20 million people under lockdown to overcome the killer bug. He said if Pakistan had similar situation like China, he could have shut down the whole cities. However, twenty five percent of our population lives under the poverty line and additional twenty percent is on the borderline.

Imran Khan said no lockdown can be successful if people become unemployed and have nothing to eat. He said coronavirus does not distinguish between rich and poor and everyone will have to play their role in its success. The Prime Minister said, “We have to fight this war with wisdom and sagacity.”

Imran Khan said, “Our biggest strength is faith which has made Pakistan one of the most charitable nations in the world.” The Prime Minister said youth are our second strength that can build the future of the nation.

Imran Khan announced establishment of Corona Relief Tiger Force that will work in collaboration with civil administration and army to contain the spread of coronavirus.  He said a cell is working in the PM Office round the clock to monitor the situation closely.

He said in a week’s time situation will be clear regarding the spread of virus. The Prime Minister said the volunteers of Tiger Force will help deliver food to areas under lockdown, besides disseminating awareness to the public. The Prime Minister said people must be clear that the coronavirus is more dangerous to elderly people and persons with underlying health conditions and it is not a social stigma.

The Prime Minister also announced Corona Relief Fund at National Bank of Pakistan where charitable contributions can be made. The contributions will also be tax free and tax incentives will be given to tax filing persons. The account number is 4162 786 786. Imran Khan said Pakistan’s relief package is around 8 billion dollars which can be further enhanced depending on needs.

He said it has been decided that State Bank of Pakistan will give loans to such industries on low markup that do not lay off their employees. Imran Khan said Facebook page of Ehsaas program will give details about the areas where people are in most need, so that people can make decisions to give charity based on transparent information.

The Prime Minister warned that strict action will be taken against the hoarders and profiteers, and they will be given an exemplary punishment, besides holding them responsible for the misery of people.

Meanwhile, chairing an important meeting to review steps taken in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday reaffirmed the government’s resolve to provide all possible relief to the people and each sector of the economy in this difficult time.

According to PM Media Office, the meeting reviewed measures taken in industry, commerce, and energy sectors to provide relief to poor segments of society in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The Prime Minister said that the country is facing an unprecedented situation and government institutions need to play a vibrant role in this crisis. Along with coronavirus the government is also facing the challenge of poverty in the country.

The Prime Minister directed the Minister for National Food Security to keep an eye on the availability of essential items in the country and to ensure that there is no shortage of flour, pulses, rice, ghee and sugar.

The Prime Minister also called for constituting a special committee comprising federal and provincial authorities to monitor the situation of food on a daily basis and present its recommendations.

Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Sania Nishtar gave a detailed briefing to the Prime Minister regarding steps taken to provide relief to vulnerable segments in the context of the prevailing situation.

Advisor on Industry and Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood briefed the Prime Minister about the steps taken as per the latter’s instructions. He said that all owners of the large-scale industry in the country have been instructed to ensure payment of salaries to their employees. He further said that the steps to protect employees in small and medium size enterprises are being finalized on the basis of mutual consultation.