COVID-19 didn’t spread as fast in Pakistan as in Europe and US: PM tells WEF
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan said that the speed at which coronavirus (COVID-19) spread in Europe and the US, Pakistan is not experiencing the same sort of speed. The prime minister delivered his keynote speech at World Economic Forum (WEF) especially conducted on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic via video link. Addressing the WEF, the premier said that the coronavirus did not spread as fast in Pakistan as in European countries rather the challenge faced by the country was more so of poverty rather than the pathogen infection. Imran Khan called upon the developed countries to provide debt relief to poorer nations that were struggling to cope with the COVID-19 crisis that has battered their economies. “The experience of the developed world is completely different to what we are facing in the developing world. Countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh — specifically the Indian subcontinent — our experience is somewhat different,” the premier said during online address. “But the bigger challenge and increasingly in our country is how to mitigate the effects of lockdown on our population with the rising poverty. We, in Pakistan, we have 25 million workers who are either daily wagers or get paid weekly or are self-employed. When we [impose a] lockdown like the whole of the world to stop the spread of the virus all these people became unemployed, he maintained. “When we are talking about 25 million workers, we are talking about 25 million families. And actually it has affected around almost 120-150 million people [who] face stark poverty,” the prime minister explained. “Unless the men and the women work, they cannot feed their families. What my government did was we launched a cash programme and reached nearly 15 million families with cash transfers but this is only a short-term solution,” he mentioned. “This year, Pakistan had made great progress in terms of its twin budgets and bridging the current account deficit. The virus has hit us at a very crucial time,” the premier said. Apprising the forum with government led initiatives in the fight against coronavirus, Khan said: “In Pakistan 25 million people earn daily wages. Due to lockdown they went out of jobs and the government came up with immediate emergency cash transfers.” “I spoke to Ethiopian, Egyptian counterparts and they also face similar challenges as us, we have to keep our economic conditions in view while combating coronavirus,” he reiterated. PM Imran Khan further said that the developed world was facing different experiences in the wake of coronavirus pandemic than that of the developing countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Thanking the G-20 forum for heeding his prior call to action on debt-relief, PM Imran Khan said that he was thankful to the global body for providing considerable debt-relief to the developing countries the details of which are as yet awaited, the developing countries do need significant relief in health sector to fight the pandemic, he continued. PM Imran Khan also mentioned the formation and deployment of “Tiger Force” comprised of 1 million volunteers to cope with coronavirus in Pakistan.