ISLAMABAD, Jun 5 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday said the country could still avert tough times in its anti-COVID 19 fight if the people follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for which the role of Corona Relief Tiger Force for creating awareness and enforcement was important.
“Even now, if the people are made to take precautions and follow SOPs, I am sure we will not have to go through tough times other countries are going through,” the prime minister said addressing the volunteers of Corona Relief Tigers Force to apprise them of their future role particularly for the enforcement of the anti-COVID SOPs as well as relief services in the locked down areas.
He said Allah Almighty had showered His great blessing on Pakistan by protecting it against the much apprehended bad times for what he lauded the role of the people as well as his team for assessing the situation and making right decisions.
He said only Pakistan and the United Kingdom had realized the necessity of the volunteers force. Around 35,000 volunteers turned up to work in Italy and 60,000 in the UK, but in Pakistan, over million had registered and about 175,000 came to work which showed a great passion among the Pakistani people.
The prime minister said the government would need the Tiger Force’s support to apprise the people on the importance of SOPs at the shops, markets and industries, which were opened subject to the adherence to certain conditions.
He said Pakistan was the only Islamic country to allow Tarawih congregations during the Holy Ramzan and due the Ulema’s cooperation, the country had not seen any breakout from mosques. In that regard, the Tigers also played a positive role by visiting the mosques and making the people follow the guidelines, he added, while exemplifying and appreciating the volunteers’ role in Sialkot.
The prime minister said Brazil had touched the mark of 1,300 deaths in a day, the United States 2,000 plus, and as many in the UK and European countries, but Pakistan was lucky to have recorded only 17,00 deaths in over three months.
He told the volunteers that the government would constantly keep them updated about the situation and their role. The government might seal some coronavirus hotspots in future and in such a case, the Corona Tigers would have to play their role to ensure food supply and other services to support the city administration.
The prime minister said the spike of the coronavirus could be slowed down if the volunteers succeeded to aware and make the people follow the SOPs.
He reiterated that the poor people would be the biggest casualty if the government reverted to the lockdown. What to talk of Pakistan, poverty had increased even in the developed countries where the people were seen queued up to receive food. Similarly, he said, the poverty graph surged in India where the people died of hunger owing to the strict lockdown.
He said the Asian Development Bank had appreciated Pakistan for distributing huge funds among around 16 million people, including small medium enterprises (SMEs), unemployed and job losers within the minimum possible time, and applauded the Ehsaas programme chief Dr Sania Nishtar and her team.
He said the situation could have turned worse had the government not timely distributed cash support among the people.
He said the lockdown would not impact the rich or the salaried class but the daily wagers and the government’s Ehsaas programme could not support the people for long.
Neither the country, he added, could afford to reimpose the lockdown nor it was a solution. The country’s healthcare system was under pressure, which could only be released by flattening the curve of coronavirus cases, he said.
The prime minister said the pandemic had badly hit even the developed economies. It emerged at a time when Pakistan was getting out of tough financial situation. Due to the pandemic, the country’s tax revenues had declined by Rs 800 billion. As the government was in the process of formulating next annual budget, it would have to face difficult situation to enhance its revenues.
Imran Khan said besides pointing out the hoarders, the Tiger Force volunteers were supposed to keep an eye on the availability of food items at the Utility Stores. The government had given Rs 50 billion to the department to ensure sufficient food stock there during the lockdown that had also contained the food prices.
He said the volunteers would be issued identity cards by the district administrations concerned to ensure their access and movement in the sealed areas.
He said the government would also require the Tiger Force’s support in its efforts against the locusts swarms, which, in some countries, could even create famine like situation by destroying the crops.
Moreover, he said, the volunteers’ role to support the government’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project was vital to enhance the country’s forest cover and thus avert the future water crisis.