Government on right track

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THE information disseminated and remarks made by Prime
Minister Imran Khan during his exhaustive interaction
with senior journalists on Friday conveyed a vivid impression that the Government was moving in the right direction as far as handling of one of the gravest challenges of the country’s history – Covid-19 – is concerned. He stated that an economic stimulus package was under preparation and would be announced on March 24 in a bid to shield the country’s people, industrial sector and economy from the impact of the novel Corona Virus outbreak; ruled out total lockdown of the country and cautioned against creating panic adding that the government has decided to continuously update the nation on the latest situation as withholding of any information would amount to injustice.
The very decision of the Prime Minister to brief media twice a week about the latest situation and measures being taken by the Government to overcome the crisis would help discourage speculation and rumours and let people have a correct idea of what to do in the evolving situation. Presence of concerned advisors and special assistants to respond to all sorts of queries would also satiate thirst of the media and people who are eager to know even smallest of details as to what the authorities were doing and planning to immune the population and the economy from the growing threat of the virus. As for the economic package, the leaders of the Government have all along been claiming about measures to stimulate the otherwise sluggish economic activity but so far nothing worthwhile or effective has been announced. It is hoped that this time round the Government would really unveil a concrete package especially for the construction sector in view of the hit that the economy is receiving due to new challenge of Corona-driven slowdown. As for the total lockdown, the Prime Minister’s resistance is obviously motivated by his desire to safeguard interests of the vulnerable segments of the society but the decision would ultimately be dictated by the evolving situation. We have been emphasizing in these columns that self-isolation would be the best course and appeal of the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to people of his province to stay at their homes voluntarily for three days has the potential to help check the spread of the virus if his request was responded to by citizens. However, what happened in a virus affected locality of Mardan on Friday is an indication that there is no culture of self-restraint in the country as residents of the area broke the lockdown and came on roads to protest against non-availability of items of daily use. It has also highlighted the need to take all aspects of the lockdown in vies including adequate supply of essential items. In a similar situation, Sindh Government had to suspend registration of seven schools, which violated Government’s order to close down educational institutions for the sake of protection of children. People ought to cooperate with the Government as measures taken by Sindh Government have started producing positive results and according to spokesman for the provincial government Murtaza Wahab putting people in quarantine is yielding results and the province reported only 15 positive cases out of the total 287 Corona Virus tests conducted on Friday. It is, however, advisable for all the provincial governments to establish field hospitals and quarantine facilities away from highly populated areas as a precautionary measure to protect healthy people from possible infection. Meanwhile, China has once again demonstrated its commitment to help Pakistan strengthen its fight against Corona Virus by agreeing to provide eight hundred ventilators to the country. Ventilators are in great demand all over the world because of their direct relevance in saving lives of the affected people and availability of eight hundred of them would mean much for Pakistan. There is also need that philanthropists should follow the good example set by Deputy Chairman Senate Saleem Mandviwalla who has procured two thousand diagnostic kits from his own pocket for distribution among hospitals. It is time for well-to-do people to come forward and contribute their share in mitigating the woes of the people. There is also rational in the suggestion made to the Prime Minister to take the opposition political parties into confidence as part of the strategy to effectively deal with the challenge thrown by the fast-spreading virus.