PM Imran seeks input from provinces to ease countrywide lockdown

F.P. Report

QUETTA: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that the decision about easing the countrywide lockdown will be taken after seeking inputs from all the provinces on April 14.

Talking to media along with Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal, Balochistan Governor Justice (R) Amanullah Khan and Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar in Quetta on Thursday, he said that the consultation is underway and the decision regarding which sectors to open will be taken on April 14.

The prime minister said that the whole country has been affected by the ongoing lockdown, but as the level of poverty in Balochistan is much higher than other parts of the country. I have come here today to discuss with the provincial government as to how we can help the poor people in the province, he said.

Balochistan has the highest ratio of poverty in Pakistan and the novel coronavirus pandemic has affected the entire country.

Imran Khan said that the lockdown has affected small shopkeepers and efforts are underway to help the needy people to cope with the challenge posed by the pandemic.

He said 16,000 disbursement points had been opened across the country for distribution of Rs 12,000 per family as financial assistance under the historic Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, which was aimed at reaching out to the poor and deserving in the critical time.

Under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, a total of Rs 144 billion would be distributed among the 12 million poor and deserving families across the country.

Imran Khan said since the labour class, including daily-wagers, vendors and small shopkeepers, were badly affected by the lockdown, the government would review the situation on April 14 and could allow such small businesses to open in consultation with the provincial governments.

The prime minister said as the outbreak of Covid-19 was a national issue, it could only be fought and won through a coordinated effort of the federal and provincial governments, and by the whole nation in unison.

He said Covid-19 was such a big challenge that the rich nations, including the Westerns countries despite having resources were facing difficulties in tacking the situation.

Referring to the success of China in the fight against coronavirus, he said, China won the war through unity and strategy. “We too have to help one another in this fight and win it as a nation,” he maintained. 

PM Khan maintained that he came here to extend cooperation to Balochistan government in providing maximum relief during the lock down.

“The federal government would provide financial assistance to more than 100 million lockdown stricken people across the country,” he said adding that the federal government is constantly in contact with all the provincial governments to combat with the Coronavirus emergency situation.

The prime minister reiterated that the complete lockdown was badly affecting the low-income and laborer community particularly in Balochistan as majority of the people here were already living below the poverty line.

He said: “The provincial governments themselves would decide about the lockdown according to their situation on April 14, adding the federal and provincial governments were in coordination to tackle the pandemic as no single government could tackle it alone.” 

PM speaks to Balochistan Cabinet and members of Parliament 

Talkig to the Balochistan Cabinet and members of the Parliament during his day-long visit to Quetta, he said the whole world was confronted with an unprecedented situation after the outbreak of COVID-19 and Pakistani nation would fight coronavirus with unity, adding that as coronavirus cases were being increased worldwide and expressed fear that the number of such cases in Pakistan would be increased at the end of April which would put more pressure on hospitals.

Imran Khan said the government was fully focusing on providing personal protection equipments (PPEs) and other related tools to doctors and paramedical staff at the hospitals, adding that such equipments had been provided to all those working at the intensive care units.

He said there was shortage of ventilators and testing kits worldwide but the government was utilizing all its resources to import them on emergency basis.

The prime minister said the National Command and Control Centre for Covid-19 was in constant touch with all the chief ministers for effective coordination to control the spread of the virus.

He expressed his pleasure that there was no patient of coronavirus in Balochistan in the intensive care units. The prime minister said the coronavirus would have less impact in Balochistan except Quetta as the province had scattered population.

Contrary to it, he said, the Covid-19 would have greater impact in big cities like Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad and so on. 

PM vists quarantine center

PM Imran Khan also visited corona quarantine center at Bolan Medical College Hospital Quetta. He was accompanied by Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal, Deputy Speaker National Assembly Qasim Khan Suri and Yar Muhammad Rind.

The Chief Secretary Balochistan briefed the Prime Minister about the isolation ward and quarantine center. Imran Khan also chaired a meeting in Quetta today to review the coronavirus situation in Balochistan.

On the occasion, the Prime Minister was briefed about the steps taken to contain the spread of the virus in the province.

Later, Governor Balochistan Justice (retired) Amanullah Khan and Provincial Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Quetta today.

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