PM once again rules out blanket lockdown to contain virus in Pakistan

Announces youth force, relief fund to help needy in case of a national emergency

By: Maqbool Ahmad      Published: 09:55 PM, 30 Mar, 2020
PM once again rules out blanket lockdown to contain virus in Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to the nation.

Prime Minister Imran Khan once again on Monday evening ruled out a blanket lockdown in the country, saying it would hit Pakistan's 25 percent poor population very hard.

Sharing the government’s strategy to fight the coronavirus outbreak in the country, Khan said in a televised address the situation vis-à-vis spread of the virus in the country would be clear in the next five to seven days and he would let the nation know whether the infection was rising vertically or at a slower pace.

The prime minister said that no lockdown could work in the country, which has a big number of poor people. “Had Pakistan been in a China-like position financially, I would have imposed a China-style lockdown across the country to contain the virus, but in the prevailing conditions it is not possible,” he explained. He said the entire world was fighting a war against the virus and every country was doing its bit as per its capacity. He said the Pakistani nation had two unique strengths, which would help it win its war against coronavirus: the first is the power of faith and the second is the power of its youth.

Citing lockdown in the neighbouring India, Khan said the Indian government imposed a lockdown in the entire country a few days ago and now Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was apologising to his people for his hasty decision. He said the war against the virus needed to be fought through a national strategy, not through lockdowns. He said that his government had announced a $8 billion relief package for people against the backdrop of coronavirus outbreak and this was the biggest package in the country’s his, but it looks too little when compared to the US government’s relief package of $2,000 billion for their people.

Corona Relief Tigers

He announced setting up Corona Relief Tigers, a force, which will work in coordination with the army and other institutions to provide relief to the needy people if the situation worsens in the coming days. He said this force would supply essential items to areas, which might have to be locked down at a later stage, and it will educate people about how to quarantine themselves on their own. He said this force would have people from walks of life.

PM's Relief Fund for Covid-19

On this occasion, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced setting up a relief fund with the title Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for Covid-19. The account number where people can deposit their donations is 4162 786 786, National Bank of Pakistan, Main Branch, Karachi. The swift code for the fund is NBPAPKKAMBR. He said all funds and charity should be deposited in this account so that the government could spend this money where it is really needed. He said the government would operate this fund through the Ehsaas Programme in a very coordinated way.

As an incentive for industrial units, the prime minister said the State Bank of Pakistan would give soft loans to industrialists and businessmen who would not lay off their workers in this crisis. Warning hoarders and profiteers, he said they would be responsible for people’s deaths if they would not stop hoarding and profiteering in these times of national suffering. He said the government would deal with such people very strictly.

Towards end of his speech, the prime minister urged people once again to observe social distancing and take care of needy people around them.