ISLAMABAD - Former Interior Minister and Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator Rehman Malik today on Saturday has urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to call All Parties Conference at the earliest to arrive at a unified strategy to counter coronavirus and its effects on the country.

While addressing a press conference, Senator Rehman Malik expressed grave concerns over the rapid increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan and said that he fears its further increase in upcoming days if preventive measures on war footing were not taken. He expressed great grief and also paid rich tribute to those medical professionals who died of coronavirus and prayed for the speedy recovery of those who were tested positive and expressed sympathies with their families.

Senator Rehman Malik said that he did not agree with the slogan “Cronona se Darna Nahe” (Don’t be afraid of Corona) adding that because of this slogan many people were taking this deadly disease non-seriously and were not wearing masks in public places. He said that the slogan should have been  “Hamay Corona Se Khud ko aur Qom ko Mehfooz Rakhna Hay” (we have to save ourselves and nation from coronavirus) by following SOPs and all preventive measures. He appealed to the nation not to take coronavirus lightly and to follow the SOPs and all preventive measures strictly as by our carelessness, it would increase manifold, going out of our control.

In his press conference, Senator Rehman Malik said that witnessing the prevailing dreadful situation particularly after Eid holidays, it was necessary to write to PM Imran Khan to keep aside ego and political differences and immediately call APC with a single point agenda to create consensus on formulating a strategy to counter coronavirus in the country.

In his letter he maintained that since the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan, we had suffered irreparable damages, adding that no doubt that the whole world continued to face the consequences of this devastating phenomenon, but there were several examples, where countries, with their timely planning and foresight had addressed the issue with greater success.

He wrote that we were entering the more critical phase of this pandemic in Pakistan, where the implosion of the disease could affect the most sensitive organs and incapacitate their functioning.  “The need for a consensus and unified response has increased manifold.  With the convergence of the pandemic threat, looming global recession, aggravating trade wars, shifting geostrategic political patterns, hasty pull out of foreign troops from Afghanistan, tensions in the Gulf, rearing head of terrorism in Pakistan, and the incessant belligerent Indian attitude, increasing atrocities in Kashmir, a clear exploitative tool of Hybrid Warfare is shaping up in hands of the enemies of Pakistan, ready to strike the country.  Not-too-distant drums of war are being beaten in the region that are harbinger of existential challenges for Pakistan” his letter reads.

Senator in his letter urged to forge unity among the nation and to develop synergy in unification of purpose in these trying times, to call All Parties Conference (APC), with a single point agenda, which was “ reaching consensus in formulating strategy for countering coronavirus”, without any further delay, wherein, a unified course of action could be charted out to meet the rising challenges. Referring to his earlier correspondence, he said that he had already suggested several measures, through his letters to PM Imran Khan dated 20th March, 2020 and 27th April, 2020, and letter to Ministry of Interior, mapping a comprehensive National Action Program for Countering Coronavirus Pandemic. 

In his letter to Prime Minister, Senator A. Rehman Malik gave important suggestions and wrote that it had become extremely important that, with least loss of time, also implement important SOPs. He suggested that face masks could be be declared as necessary to wear and may be distributed to the citizen free of cost or at least face masks and hand sanitizers may be provided on subsidized rates in the rural areas. He also suggested that every doctor should be provided with personal protective equipment (PPEs). He strongly recommended that the risk allowance given to the doctors and paramedical staff should be increased by 100 percent. He expressed that rural areas were being ignored in the given time therefore it was necessary that the disparity between rural and urban areas for treatment and care for coronavirus patients should immediately be removed.  He advised that Health Division could be directed to bring “Anti-Corona Rural Program” that should include establishment of temporary (makeshift) hospitals and the positioning of doctors and paramedical staff therein, based on intelligent or smart addressing.

Rehman Malik also suggested to immediately declare health emergency in the country and the Ministry of National Health Services could also bring the legislation to implement the SOPs for social distancing, business patterns and any other changes required, through enforcement of law. He suggested that the services of Civil Defence, Scouts and Volunteer students might also be used in coping with the forthcoming situation of coronavirus patients. At the end of the letter, Senator A. Rehman Malik said “I earnestly hope that in national interest, an APC would be called at the earliest, adding kinetics to unified strategy to counter coronavirus and its effects on the country.’

Senator A. Rehman Malik in his press conference appealed the non-practicing female doctors to come forward and register themselves to serve the people of their homeland in these difficult moments of coronavirus outbreak. He said that as per his information a majority of the female doctors were not practicing because of their family responsibilities but it was the time to volunteer and serve the country by showing compassion to humanity. He said that more than 40,000 Pakistanis doctors were working abroad and he appealed them to come back and serve the country. He said that Pakistan was left with only 130,000 doctors, out of those more than 30,000 or more were working in administration or basic science faculty positions or were doing some other business or were retired leaving the country with 100,000 or less practicing doctors.

He said that to provide adequate cover to population of a 218 million the country needed at least 2 doctors per 1,000 persons which meant that Pakistan needed 436,000 practicing doctors, at present.

Senator Rehman Malik in his press conference strongly condemned the Indian continuous unprovoked aggression across the Line of Control (LoC), targeting civilian population and surveillance of spy drones violating Pakistani airspace. He said that he applauded and saluted the Pakistan Army for responding aggressively to the blatant acts of Indian forces and spontaneously and two drones were shot down within three days.

Citing the case of Wing Commander Abhinandan, the senator said that India must remember that any Indian aggression would be retaliated in befitting manner. He said that with Prime Minister Narendra Modi peace in the region was never possible as he was following the ideology of RSS–the Indian terrorist organization. He said that India under PM Modi had simultaneously escalated tension at its borders with China, Nepal and Pakistan. He said that as the aggressive Indian policy towards its neighbours was endangering regional peace and security. He added that by escalating tension at borders with Pakistan and China, India was pushing the region into war to divert world’s attention from its state terrorism in occupied Kashmir and crimes against religious minorities in India. He urged the international community to take notice of Modi’s war mongering as he was pushing the world towards WW-III. He urged the government of Pakistan to take the international community into confidence about the Indian anti-Pakistan war plans, recent consistent violations across the LoC, and spying through drones.

Rehman Malik warned the Afghan government and its intelligence agency NDS to stop playing in the hands of RAW by interfering and carrying out subversive activities in Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan. He said that India’s Intelligence Agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was working in collaboration with the Afghanistan’s Intelligence Agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS), for creating instability and hostility in Balochistan and Fata by performing terrorist activities. He said Afghanistan must be careful of Modi’s nefarious aims of destroying the regional peace. He said Pakistan had always worked for peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan as peace in Afghanistan was in the best interest of Pakistan and rest of the region.