ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that the war against the coronavirus pandemic can only be won through national unity and coordinated efforts of all stakeholders concerned.
He was speaking at the Ehsaas Telethon being simultaneously telecast by the PTV and private TV channels to raise funds to fight COVID-19.
Around Rs 550 million were raised during the three-and-a-half-hour-long transmission which marked live calls from the top businessmen, corporate heads, renowned sportsmen, overseas Pakistanis, artists and philanthropists, which were received by the Prime Minister.
Following the telethon, the total deposits in the PM Relief Fund for COVID-19 reached Rs 2.76 billion as further donations continued to pour in the advertised account number 4162786786 of National Bank of Pakistan’s Main Branch at II Chundrigarh, Karachi.
He said the PTI government announced a massive and historic relief package for poor families with an objective to reduce miseries of the masses amid the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Terming the Ehsaas Cash Emergency Programme as transparent and merit-based, he said cash assistance worth 12,000 rupees is being distributed among 5.437 million beneficiaries across the country.
He said the government allocated 144 billion rupees under Ehsaas Cash Emergency Programme.
Imran Khan said the entire world is struggling against coronavirus which has emerged as the major global issue. He said the lockdown adversely affected the world economy, resulting in growing poverty across the globe, especially in developing countries like Pakistan.
He said the government is mulling the option of imposing a smart lockdown in the country to wisely provide relief to labour class, daily wagers and lower-middle strata of society. Imran Khan said imposition of a ‘ balanced and smart lockdown’ on the pattern of western countries will be an effective and viable option under the prevailing situation in the country.
He made it clear that an “indefinite lockdown” is not an option and any decision regarding a smart lockdown should be for “all Pakistanis and not just the elite”.
Imran Khan said lockdown in India and Singapore badly affected the poor people, and now countries like the United States, are also thinking to impose a ‘smart lockdown’ despite deaths of over 40,000 citizens.
The Prime Minister expressed confidence that the government will take further decisions in consultations with all stakeholders to resolve issues being faced by the people living below the poverty line. He said the government prepared a comprehensive roadmap for the holy month of Ramazan by taking all religious scholars and Ulema on board. He, however, warned that the government will come into action if any one violates the 20-point standard operating procedures.
The Prime Minister warned that the next three to four weeks can be critical for Pakistan in terms of coronavirus infections and deaths.
Quoting his recent telephonic conversation with US President Donald Trump, he said Washington is planning to ease the ongoing lockdown, which was imposed to contain the virus.
Responding to a query, Imran Khan advised people to offer their prayers at home and avoid gatherings in mosques to overcome the coronavirus challenge. He urged the people to have firm faith in Allah Almighty, and make special prayers to steer the Muslims out of prevailing challenge.
Talking about the upcoming federal budget, the Prime Minister said the budget will be a stimulus and business-friendly. He expressed confidence that the government will take concrete measures to boost national economy, provide employment to coronavirus-hit population, and alleviate poverty in the country.
Imran Khan expressed gratitude to all overseas Pakistanis, philanthropists and humanitarians, who donated generously for Prime Minister Covid-19 Relief Fund in this testing time.
Balanced and smart lockdown can be viable option: PM