ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday challenged members of the National Assembly “to point out a single contradiction” in his statements on the response to the pandemic, saying Pakistan was not confused.
In a uncommon look in an NA session, PM Imran defended his authorities’s coronavirus response after it got here below criticism from opposition for being “confused”.
“We bore a lot of criticism in the beginning to impose a stricter lockdown. There was a lot of pressure on me. From my own people. From my own cabinet to impose something like India [did],” stated the premier. “The world has been experimenting in their very own methods.
“Repeatedly, it is being said there was confusion. Mr Speaker, if there was any government in the world that wasn’t confused it was ours. Since day one,” he added.
PM Imran additionally challenged the Opposition to level out any conflicting statements he might have made ever since Pakistan imposed the lockdown.
“I want to challenge you to point out a single contradiction in my statements since we imposed the lockdown on March 13,” he stated.
Conditions totally different from Western nations
PM Imran reiterated that Pakistan’s inhabitants density, circumstances, and financial circumstances have been totally different from the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, Singapore, and New Zealand.
The premier stated that if Pakistan adopted the lockdown insurance policies of the western governments, then it will imply difficulties for the poor.
“I’ve all the time held that if in case you have Singapore’s inhabitants, an earnings of $50,000 per capita, if in case you have pure social distancing, then one of the best factor is to impose a curfew.
“I also said that our conditions are such, we have to think of the impact on the poor. These have been consistent statements on my behalf. You have all my speeches on record,” he stated.
The premier paid a particular tribute to the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) as Pakistan has knowledge to behave on as a consequence of its efforts to ascertain correct coordination between provinces.
“We had no figures previously for how many ventilators exist in Pakistan, how many intensive care beds there are, how much staff is available,” he stated.
India’s failed lockdown coverage
He stated India’s instance of a failed lockdown coverage was being highlighted in every single place, together with by The New York Times. As a end result, he commented, 34% folks have been pushed into poverty there.
“The poor people have been crushed. There are thousands on the road. Transport has been shut. People have died on the road,” he stated, highlighting the affect of a strict lockdown on the poor folks in India.
Even in America, folks can see that instances are consistently ballooning and so they have needed to settle for they need to reopen their economies, he added.
“They, too, are realising that even the world’s most powerful economy cannot endure the effects of a lockdown,” he stated, persevering with to defend his authorities’s determination to ease curbs.
“We were the first to talk of a smart lockdown. It was the NCOC,” he stated.
Smart lockdown goals to guard sick, aged
The prime minister stated the subsequent section was a troublesome one, with the federal government challenged to impress upon folks the significance of following commonplace working procedures.
“We have to provide people a source of income but […] whenever there are clusters [of people], the disease spreads. We also know that if we do not exercise caution, the existing pressure on hospital will only worsen.”
“So whoever is watching, it is necessary for all of us to make people realise how important is is to save our elders, the sick, those who have blood pressure [issues] and diabetes. The real aim behind a smart lockdown is to protect these people,” he stated.
The premier additionally stopped to increase his condolences to the households of the 4,000 folks to have died from COVID-19.
“If we exercise caution, our facilities are enough to be able to cope with it,” he stated, including regretfully that he receives experiences every day of how sufficient precaution shouldn’t be being taken.
He reiterated that if folks proceed to watch out, the month will go by “without any further adverse impacts”.
‘Govt not hiding behind coronavirus’
The premier additionally addressed issues that the federal government is “hiding behind the coronavirus crisis”.
The world’s economic system had suffered a $12.three trillion setback as a result of disaster, quoting figures launched by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the moment, he stated.
Speaking additional of particular person economies, PM Imran stated Britain had skilled a 20% shrinkage and its progress has gone into the adverse territory. “The entire world is saying that that is the worst financial disaster in a 100 years.
“England has had 40,000 deaths. But the variety of deaths don’t have anything to do with any of this. When you shut down the economic system, it doesn’t make a distinction what number of deaths happen.
“The point is, what impact does it have on the economy?”
He stated there was no telling how a lot additional losses the world’s economic system would endure and the way lengthy it will take for a full restoration. “Industries have been shuttered that may by no means be revived once more. The providers trade, tourism sector, and airways have all gone right into a disaster.
“So I found this idea very strange that we are ‘hiding behind the coronavirus crisis’.”
‘I’m the nation’s greatest fundraiser’
The prime minister additionally sought it pertinent to offer a “background” on the sort of economic system that the PTI authorities had inherited.
“It is not as if Switzerland’s economy was handed over to us,” he stated, earlier than detailing the federal government’s present account deficit — $20 billion — in addition to the import and export ranges compared, $60 billion and $20 billion, respectively.
He stated the present account deficit was a determine that everybody regarded to when gauging an economic system’s well being. Owing to shrinking greenback ranges, he stated the rupee witnessed a decline in worth and imports grew to become costly, together with oil, which impacted electrical energy costs and, in flip, the price of every thing else.
“Of course, poverty and inflation had to rise. We did not mount this deficit. We had inherited it,” he stated, including that half of the federal government’s tax assortment went in direction of paying off liabilities.
“I’m the nation’s greatest fundraiser. I by no means felt ashamed asking for cash from Pakistanis for our personal nation — for hospitals, universities, [and] earthquakes.
“But the shame that I felt when I went to other countries to ask for money [was like none other]. No matter how much of a well-wisher a country is, when you ask them for money, they get a look in their eyes. It was a great shame not just for me but for our country as well,” stated the premier.
“We were close to a default. It wasn’t our fault. It was our bad lack to have had the kind of leadership that we had in the past.”
PM ‘like a father to a nation’
He then went on to castigate the Opposition for incurring heavy bills on overseas excursions.
“A prime minister is like a father to a nation, with the people of the country like his children. If my children are hungry, if I am unable to provide them treatment, will I live like a king? Will I not cut down my expenses? This reflects a mindset”
He then supplied a breakdown of all of the bills incurred by the incumbent authorities on overseas excursions in comparison with the extravagant figures reported in previous authorities tenures.
“In Washington, I spent $67,189, whereas Nawaz Sharif spent $549,000 and Asif Ali Zardari spent $752,000.
“Did their leaders think: ‘Oh what impressive people they are?’ I dare say a Western democracy leader wouldn’t spend as much as they did.”
He additionally included figures for UN and Davos visits.
“Do they not know every dollar is important? You build a culture which is impressed upon people […] When a country implements austerity, rulers lead by example.”
‘Martyred’ Osama Bin Laden
The premier additionally spoke at size on Pakistan’s success in its overseas coverage through the incumbent authorities’s tenure and paid tribute to the overseas ministry and its head, Shah Mahmood Qureshi. He recalled how this success was not loved up to now 10 years or so.
“We supported America’s war on terror but we had to pay a heavy price and were humiliated instead. We supported them but they only blamed us,” he famous.
“They were not successful in Afghanistan and they blamed us for that too.”
He stated two incidents mark a darkish chapter in Pakistan’s historical past. “One is when the Americans got here to Abbottabad and killed Osama Bin Laden. They martyred him. The entire world taunted us and humiliated us.
“Our own ally comes to our country and kills someone and does not even tell us. And 70,000 forces of ours had died for their fight,” he stated, recalling the incident.
The prime minister stated drone assaults have been one other supply of embarrassment. He stated Senator Carl Levin requested Admiral Michael Mullen why he attacked Pakistan “when we object to it” however Mullen stated they accomplish that “with Pakistan’s permission”.
Pakistani diaspora confronted embarrassment
The premier stated the Pakistani folks for a very long time couldn’t resolve whether or not the nation was an ally of the US or not.
“And what does he (Mullen) say in return? He said ‘why does the Pakistani government not tell their people the truth?'”
The Pakistani diaspora overseas needed to face an excessive amount of embarrassment, he stated.
The premier stated the incumbent authorities’s coverage was not by no means take part in battle, solely in peace talks. “Senator Lindsey Graham came here and endorsed our view that there is no military solution, only a political situation in Afghanistan,” he added.
He stated there was now a relationship “of trust” the place “no one is now humiliating us”. US President Donald Trump “meets us with respect and requests us for help in bringing peace in Afghanistan.”
Battling ‘fascist, Nazi-inspired Hindutva approach’
PM Imran stated everybody now acknowledged Pakistan’s position in Afghan peace talks.
He additionally spoke of Pakistan’s position as a mediator on the request of Saudi Arabia and Iran. “We will be a country to unite the Muslim ummah.”
Speaking of India, he stated: “We are battling with a fascist, Nazi-inspired Hindutva approach that is a threat to the region. [Modi] is a fanatic and is not only a menace for Muslims but also Hindus […] He is not a normal man.”
He stated he spoke to folks overseas and that the NYT’s editorial board did its personal investigation. “American media had never spoken out for Kashmir, never was India criticised like it is today. Now, Pakistan receives better reception than India abroad.”
“The subject was raised twice in United Nations […] and at the moment you see all Western newspapers are taking RSS to job.
“We wanted to take this further but a new drama began,” referring to the JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman’s sit-in.
“The Kashmir issue has reached a point of no return,” stated the premier, including that the motion “will not be stopped now”.