Govt to welcome opposition input so as to cope with coronavirus: Khan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the government will welcome any input from the opposition to cope with the challenge of coronavirus.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing the meeting of the parliamentary leaders in the National Assembly and Senate via video link here on Wednesday. He urged political parties to come forward and join hands with the government to reassess the situation.
The Prime Minister said, “At the moment, I believe that we should not go for a complete lockdown and complete shutdown of the transport as it will affect food and other supplies.”
He said complete lockdown will also have a disastrous impact on the construction industry leaving the labour class jobless, and there is a need to take care of this. He called for lifting the ban on transport as this would affect the supply of essential items in the country.
Imran Khan said any decision taken out of fear and panic will have its repercussions, which should be kept in view before taking any extreme step.
The Prime Minister said he will keep his views over the negative impact of lockdown in National Coordination Committee meeting being held on Thursday.
The PM said that the lockdown will impact the economy and increase poverty in the country. He said the government is working on raising a volunteer force to enhance response to fight the disease and provide relief to the poor people.
Imran Khan requested the leaders of all political parties and the people of Pakistan to jointly fight against the coronavirus.
Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza said there are one thousand confirmed cases of coronavirus so far in the country.
He said 78 per cent cases of COVID-19 have come from Iran and only five per cent of cases were locally transmitted.
Chairman NDMA Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal said the government has released Rs 26 billion for acquiring necessary equipment and other things to fight COVID-19. He said 500 ventilators, injections, masks, and other things will be acquired to meet the needs in wake of the pandemic.
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser last week called a meeting of parliamentary leaders at Parliament House to review the role of the parliament for containing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting chaired by Speaker of National Assembly Asad Qaiser also discussed the situation regarding coronavirus outbreak and its fiscal impact on the country’s economy.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged political leaders across the country to reassess the coronavirus lockdown and think of the poor.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Mian Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari walked out of the parliamentary leaders’ meeting when Prime Minister Imran Khan left after completing his speech.
According to details, Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed a meeting of parliamentary leaders convened on account of the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the country.
Leaders of the two major opposition parties expressed their resentment and walked out of the meeting when the PM left after completing his address.
PML-N president Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif criticized the PM saying that he is not even ready to sit down with the opposition, which shows his level of seriousness.
Talking to Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, who called on him
in Islamabad, PM Imran said the government was making all-out efforts to deal with the outbreak of novel coronavirus in the country. He said together we will fight against the
deadly virus.
Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar held separate meetings with PM Imran and President Arif Alvi and briefed them about ‘Corona Helpline Call Centre’, which is aimed at providing proper guidance to the masses about the disease.
The Governor maintained that over 3500 doctors have registered with the centre, adding that it will work round the clock to guide the people.
Briefing the media persons about the cabinet meeting, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr Firdous said meeting of the federal cabinet Wednesday discussed important issues relating to COVID-19 pandemic and the current financial situation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the meeting via video link. The meeting discussed the situation arising out of coronavirus and the steps taken by the government to contain the spread of the contagion. The meeting reviewed the impact of the epidemic on the country’s economy.
She said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi apprised the PM that his (Imran Khan’s) statement regarding lifting of international sanctions from Iran is not only being appreciated by the Iranians but the International Court of Justice also endorsed this suggestion in a decision.
“The leading role played by Imran Khan, in shaking the world conscience and raising voice in Iran’s support after the coronavirus outbreak there, is being admired at every level,” she quoted the foreign minister as saying this.
She said the debt relief programme proposed by the PM and his efforts to take up the idea at international fora including South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and Group of 77, was also getting acknowledgment globally.
Dr Awan said the cabinet underlined the need for engaging youth and overseas Pakistanis in the government efforts to effectively combat the COVID-19.
She said a ‘Volunteers Task Force’ would be formed to guide the youth in assisting destitute and elderly to fight the coronavirus pandemic. “A structure and roadmap for the Task Force will be announced shortly.”
Dr Awan said the overseas Pakistanis are an asset of the country and they always stand by the nation in testing times.
The Prime Minister, she said, has decided to set up an international fund for the coronavirus. Accordingly, a roadmap would be prepared in due course of time, she added. – TLTP, NNI

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