Pakistan is not confused on its response about corona: Imran


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday challenged members of the National Assembly to point out a single contradiction in his statements on the response to the pandemic, saying Pakistan is not confused.
Addressing at the floor of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister defended his government’s coronavirus response after it came under criticism from opposition for being “confused”.
The Prime Minister said, “We bore a lot of criticism in the beginning to impose a stricter lockdown. There was a lot of pressure on me from my own people to impose something like India [did]. The world has been experimenting in its own ways.”
“Repeatedly, it is being said there is confusion. Mr. Speaker, if there is any government in the world that wasn’t confused, it is ours,” he added.
The Prime Minister also challenged the opposition to point out any conflicting statements he may have made ever since Pakistan imposed the lockdown.
“I want to challenge you to point out a single contradiction in my statements since we imposed the lockdown on March 13,” he said.
The PM reiterated that Pakistan’s population density, circumstances, and economic conditions are different from the Chinese city of Wuhan, Singapore, and New Zealand.
He said if Pakistan follows the lockdown policies of the western governments, then it would mean difficulties for the poor.
He said that he has always said if Pakistan had an income of $50,000 per capita, then the best thing was to impose a curfew. He said, “I also said that our conditions are such, we have to think of the impact on the poor. These have been consistent statements on my behalf. You have all my speeches on record.”
The Premier paid a special tribute to the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) as Pakistan has data to act on due to its efforts to establish proper coordination between provinces. “We had no figures previously for how many ventilators exist in Pakistan, how many intensive care beds there are, how much staff is available,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that India’s example of a failed lockdown policy is being highlighted everywhere. As a result, he commented, 34 percent people have been pushed into poverty there.
“The poor people have been crushed. There are thousands on the road. Transport has been shut. People have died on the road,” he said, highlighting the impact of a strict lockdown on the poor people in India.
Even in America, people can see that cases are constantly ballooning and they have had to accept they have to reopen their economies, he added.
“They, too, are realising that even the world’s most powerful economy cannot endure the effects of a lockdown,” he said, continuing to defend his government’s decision to ease curbs.
“We were the first to talk of a smart lockdown. It was the NCOC,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the next phase is a difficult one, with the government’s challenge is to impress upon people the importance of following standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The world’s economy has suffered a $12.3 trillion setback due to the crisis, he said quoting the figures released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Speaking further of individual economies, PM Imran said Britain had experienced a 20 percent shrinkage and its growth has gone into the negative territory. “The whole world is saying that this is the worst economic crisis in 100 years.
The Prime Minister also sought it pertinent to provide a background on the kind of economy that the PTI government had inherited. “It is not as if Switzerland’s economy was handed over to us,” he said, before detailing the government’s current account deficit – $20 billion – as well as the import and export levels in comparison.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the government is focused to provide clean and affordable energy to people, and Kohala Hydropower Project will largely contribute to this objective.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing the signing ceremony of a tripartite agreement for 1124 MW Kohala Hydro Power Project, which was held here on Thursday.
Welcoming the $2.4 billion investment project, the Prime Minister said the project will generate job opportunities in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He said that electricity produced through imported fuel made electricity costly, besides negatively impacting the environment.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, federal ministers, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing and others witnessed the ceremony.
Earlier, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Lt Gen (Retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa on Thursday in his tweet termed the day as historic as a huge power sector investment of US$2.4 billion is going to be materialized in one Independent Power Producer (IPP).
“With Prime Minister Imran Khan’s clear direction to expedite the CPEC projects, all stake holders worked hard to bring this day,” Bajwa, who is also Chairman China Pakistan Corridor (CPEC) Authority, added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed to formulate a strategy for establishment of a Gemstone City in Islamabad, featuring one-window facility to promote foreign investment and exports in gems and minerals sector.
The Prime Minister issued these directions while chairing a meeting on development of gems and minerals sector in the country.
The Prime Minister also sought a detailed report on the related problems so as to devise a comprehensive roadmap. He expressed confidence that development of gems and mineral sector would not only create immense job opportunities for the youth but also help increase the country’s exports.
The meeting discussed matters related to reserves of precious gems, conducting research, encouraging foreign investment and ensuring coordination among federal and provincial governments in this regard.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned of increasing burden on hospitals and existing health facilities if the people do not follow SOPs seriously.
Talking to volunteers of Corona Relief Tiger Force here on Thursday, the Prime Minister said that it is essential to make common people understand the importance of following precautionary measures.
He said if people follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in letter and spirit, the spread of disease could be curtailed. He said, “Next one month is crucial and if we are able to convince people to adopt maximum precautionary measures, the peak of the disease could pass.” – TLTP