Qureshi urges political leadership to help chalk out strategy to curb COVID-19

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ISLAMABAD, Mar 25 (APP):Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday urged the country’s political leadership to set aside their political revelry and help the government chalk out a strategy to curb the spreading novel coronavirus.
“The government alone cannot deal with this challenge, but as a nation and with unity we can defeat it,” the foreign minister said while addressing the concluding session of parliamentary conference called by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar here at the Parliament House to take input of political leadership on the strategy to tackle the deadly virus.
He said the threat of COVID-19 required coordinated efforts and he was confident that coming together of the political leadership would result into an effective policy in that regard.
The national consensus at the time of trial was need of the hour and “we all should move forward and utilize our energies to help the people, particularly the low-income groups of the society”, he added.
He said it was also the responsibility of political parties alongside the government to discourage profiteering and hoarding of essential food commodities in the current situation.
The foreign minister said leaders of all the parliamentary parties and their representatives gave useful proposals to chart a road-map for preventing the virus from spreading across the country.
He assured the parliamentary leadership that the government was committed to take all the political parties on board to fight the war against the conronavirus.
Regarding the proposals of complete lockdown of the county, the foreign minister said the complete lockdown of the country would have harmful effects on the supply chain, causing shortage of the basic food items.
He said the wheat harvesting season had been started in Pakistan and the lockdown would badly affect the government’s wheat procurement process. It was an evolving situation and needed on the spot decisions, he added.
He said the government was not in a denial mode and was cognizant of the challenge and wanted to take all the political parties on board to tackle the issue with unity.
About ban on the media, the foreign minister said being Vice President of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI),“I assure you there will be no ban on the media as we have no policy of gagging the media.”
The foreign minister said the Pakistani Zaireen (pilgrims) from Iran had to bring back as that country itself had compulsions and was facing numerous problems owing to international sanctions.
Qureshi said the government was under pressure for keeping the Pakistani students in China after the breakout of coronavirus in Wuhan but they were kept there as the Chinese healthcare system was better than Pakistan.
He said he himself had talked to the students via video link during his recent visit of China along with President Arif Alvi and all of them were in good health.
The solidarity shown by the Government of Pakistan with China had great impact on its leadership and they had told them that Pakistan had proved that both the countries were iron brothers, he added.
Qureshi said today the Chinese government was helping Pakistan by sending equipment, including medical kits and protective gadgets.