ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday addressed the Senate which is discussing the situation arising out of coronavirus pandemic and expressed optimism to collectively surmount the challenge posed by the virus.
Addressing a Upper House, the foreign minister said the national strategy against the contagion has been chalked out after taking inputs from all federating units. He said it is a national emergency and all the stakeholders will have to work collectively to defeat the virus which has engulfed the whole world.
Qureshi said the National Coordination Committee and National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has been established to accommodate the inputs of the provinces. He said the prime minister daily holds meetings and give directions to cope with the current situation. He asked the opposition parties not to do politics on the pandemic.
The foreign minister said the government has to protect the people from Coronavirus, poverty and starvation as it will take time to flatten the curve of the virus. He said that lockdown is a “temporary solution” and is meant to flatten the curve.
“The real solution is a vaccine but that will take time. Until the real solution comes, we have to see how we can control the spread of the virus,” he said.
Qureshi criticised the opposition for implying that the government has replaced BISP with the Ehsaas Programme. He said that the scope of BISP was limited and the government had expanded it by introducing the Ehsaas programme.
“BISP covered 4 million people while Ehsaas covers 12 million. Please do not try to fool people,” he said. He further said that the government has subsidised 19 items for utility stories and pointed out that Sindh will also benefit from the move.
Qureshi has criticised the opposition for blaming the government for the delay in calling a National Assembly session. He said that the session was delayed because consensus could not be reached with the opposition since many members were against holding one.
He called on the opposition to develop consensus within your own ranks, saying even the deputy chairperson of the Senate, a prominent leader of the PPP, was against the idea of summoning parliament.
Qureshi said that the prime minister did not say the lockdown was enforced by elites. He went on to say the prime minister meant that while the upper class can afford to stay in lockdown, the poor cannot afford this luxury.
The foreign minister assured that the government does not aim to bury the 18th Amendment, saying they do not have a two-thirds majority to bring any change but want the weak point of the law addressed.