FM Qureshi says lockdown necessary to save lives
Statesman Report
MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said a lockdown is necessary to save lives as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country surged past 2,000 on Wednesday.
“Every country needs to come up with its own strategy according to needs,” Qureshi told Geo Pakistan. “The situation in the United States and Europe is worse as compared to Pakistan.”
“Pakistan is not as much at risk from coronavirus as is believed,” the foreign minister said.
The country has reported 2,046 cases of the virus and 26 deaths.
Qureshi added that a lockdown was necessary to save human lives along with social distancing to curb the spread of the virus. “However, it is also important that we maintain smooth supply of essential items,” he added.
Responding to a question about the country’s capacity to test, FM Qureshi said we are aggressively working to increase our testing capacity.
Speaking about the lockdown in neighbouring India, Qureshi said the 21-day lockdown was imposed without being given much thought. “The government of Narendra Modi is now apologising to its citizens after a serious migration problem developed there and the stock market was affected,” he noted.
He added the economic situation of developing countries was not stable enough to survive the crisis. “This is why we need to reschedule loans. A proposal in this regard was presented in the G-20 meeting, which the United Nations has also agreed to,” he added.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly rejected the proposal of putting the entire country under lockdown, despite the provincial governments doing so. Sindh was the first to announce a complete lockdown for 15 days followed by Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
“Pakistan cannot afford to impose a total lockdown. 25% of the people in the country live below the poverty line,” the prime minister said in an address to the nation on March 22.
"What will happen to them if I go ahead with the lockdown?" he said.
The premier had added that if the situation in the country had escalated as it had in Italy and China he would have thought about imposing a lockdown. “Let me tell you what a lockdown is. A lockdown means putting a curfew and restricting people to their homes with the military on the streets,” he said.
He had added that the virus could be curbed if people stopped attending gatherings and weddings and started staying at home to ensure the minimum spread of the virus.