Faith, youth can win war against corona: PM Creates coronavirus relief fund; Asks people to donate generously; Relief force will provide food to people at their homes

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STAFF REPORTER
ISLAMABAD Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday announced the government’s measures to contain the coronavirus, saying that a relief team made up of the youth, “Corona Relief Tigers Force”, will be instrumental in winning the war against the pandemic. He issued a stern warning to hoarders and profiteers, warning them that the state will “make an example out of you”. “If we cannot provide food to the people of the country, then this lockdown will not be successful,” said the prime minister during his address to the nation. “Look at India. Their prime minister has apologised to the people for imposing a lockdown,” he added. The prime minister compared the relief package of the United States with Pakistan, saying that there was no comparison between the two. “I announced a relief package of $8bn and the US announced a $2,000bn,” he said. He said that a dedicated cell at the Prime Minister’s Office was monitoring the spread of the virus. He said the relief force would provide food to people at their homes across the country and educate them on the safety precautions against the Covid-19 virus. PM Imran reiterated that he had not imposed the lockdown in Pakistan as the poor people would suffer. “If we cannot provide food to the people of the country, then this lockdown will not be successful,” the premier said. The prime minister said that the nation will battle the coronavirus with two key elements: faith and Pakistan’s young population. “We have to combat coronavirus and use these two strengths to win the war [against coronavirus],” he said. The prime minister announced a “Corona Tigers Relief Force” which would aid the administration and the armed forces in containing the virus. He said that a dedicated cell at the PM Office was monitoring the spread of the virus. Imran said that the relief force will provide food to the people at their homes and will educate them on the safety precautions against the virus. He said that the government was opening an account with the name “Prime Minister Corona Relief Fund” which will help aid people affected by the pandemic. PM Imran said that the account will be opened in the National Bank of Pakistan. He called on the people to donate generously to the account and said that no questions will be asked about the sources of the funds. “For those who deposit money in this account, the government will provide them tax relief,” said PM Imran. The prime minister said that when people hoarded products, their prices increased and as a result, the poor were left out. PM Imran warned people from increasing prices artificially to earn profit. “Those who want to make money from the hunger of the poor, the state will take strict action against them. The state will make an example out of you,” he added. He cited the example of the Ansar and Muhajireen from Islamic history and urged masses to unite to “defeat hoarders and create the spirit that will win the war against the coronavirus.” Prime Minister Imran Khan said the whole world is fighting a war against the virus and each country is fighting according to its own capacity. “The country that has been most successful so far (in this war) has been China,” he said, adding that the lockdown in Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, had enabled them to beat the virus. He said that if Pakistan’s situation was the same as China he would have imposed a lock down in the country. The prime minister explained that the problem was that a segment of Pakistanis faced extreme poverty. Imran Khan said that the virus doesn’t discriminate citing the example of the United Kingdom where Prime Minister Boris Johnson had tested positive for Covid-19. He said that the virus was one that doesn’t discriminate between the rich and the poor. The Prime Minister said that the Coronavirus Relief Fund will open from Wednesday. He further said that SBP has decided to provide cheap loans to businesses that do not terminate their employees and Ehsaas programme Facebook page will ask those who require ration as well those who want to provide charity to register. Imran Khan said that war against coronavirus will be won through proper strategy. He said there should be no haste in any decision regarding lockdown of whole country. The Prime Minister said the one nation that has emerged successful in its fight against Covid-19 is China. China had locked down two crore people in Wuhan to fight this virus. “Perhaps we could also do that if we had an economy like China. Alas, we don’t,” he added. “We are a country with 25% population living below poverty line. Then a number of people living right next to the poverty line, one blow, and they’ll be ousted into poverty. So, we are looking at the plight of at least 9-10 crore people.” “The biggest question before us is that if we lockdown entire Pakistan today, can we even provide food to the most underprivileged people? If no, this lockdown will be a failure.”