PM draws youth valor to combat virus

-Defends decision against complete lockdown
-Opens COVID-19 fund to help vulnerable segment of society
-Says Tiger force to aid relief effort in lockdown areas
-Tax amnesty offered for donations in PM’s relief fund

By Uzma Zafar

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday that the country’s faith and youth were two of its biggest assets against the Covid-19 pandemic.
In an address to the nation, the prime minister said that the entire world was at war against the coronavirus and that every country was fighting this war according to its own capacity. He identified China as a country that has been successful in its war against the virus while reminding the nation that Pakistan did not possess China’s resources and would therefore need to come up with its own strategy.
“If our economic situation was similar to that of China’s, I, too, would have locked down the entire country. 25 per cent of our population lives under extreme poverty. And then 20pc on top of that lives near the poverty line. If we committed to a full lockdown and are then unable to feed our people, all our efforts to halt the spread of the virus will be futile,” Khan said.
Pointing to India’s 21-day lockdown dilemma, the premier warned against taking similar decisions without implementing plans to mitigate the effects of a lockdown. “If India lifts its lockdown now, the virus will spread. And if they retain the lockdown, their people will starve to death,” Khan said.
The prime minister reminded the nation that this virus didn’t discriminate between the rich and poor, citing the example of a developed country like the United Kingdom where Prime

Minister Boris Johnson had tested positive for the virus.
“If you compare the US to Pakistan, they announced a stimulus package of nearly $2 trillion whereas we could only offer $8 billion to mitigate the economic fallout from Covid-19 outbreak. You see, we have limited resources. But what we have is faith and youth. We are the second youngest population in the world and we intend to fully unleash the potential and vigour of our youth to fight this virus,” Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed.
The premier outlined the ways in which the newly established Corona Relief Tigers youth force will work to assist the government in its Covid-19 response. “This youth force will go into lockdown areas and distribute food and other necessities amongst the needy and poor. These youngsters will also offer guidance to people around the country about potential symptoms of the virus and instruct them about quaranting and self-isolation,” Khan revealed.
“The PM office has a cell which is analysing data and trends. Within a week, we will inform you of the virus’ trajectory in Pakistan,” assured the PM.
The prime minister also announced the establishment of a Prime Minister Corona Relief Fund — a fundraising National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) account, which will aid people financially affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. He revealed that the bank account would be set up day after tomorrow. He appealed to the nation to donate generously and promised tax relief to those who will deposit money in this account. In a stern warning to hoarders, the premier promised strict action against those whose hoarding was inflating the prices of commodities.
“Those who are hoarding, I want to tell them that because of them people in this country will die of starvation. We will make an example out of you,” Prime Minister Imran Khan warned.
He cited the example of the Ansar and Muhajireen from history of Madina and urged the nation to follow the selfless example of the Ansar. “We need to defeat these hoarders and create the spirit of the Ansar. Only then will we defeat this virus,” the premier concluded.
Prime Minister Imran Khan stressing on the need of fighting war against Coronavirus with unity and sagacity on Monday announced “PM’s Relief Fund for COVID-19” and a youth force to effectively tackle the situation arising out of the deadly contagion which has so far killed over 30,000 people across the world.
Addressing the nation over radio and television, he urged people including the Overseas Pakistanis to contribute generously in the PM’s Relief Fund for COVID-19 for which an account “NBPAPKKAMBR-4162786786” had been opened at the main branch of National Bank of Pakistan Karachi and would be operative from April 1.
The prime minister said those contributing in the PM’s Relief Fund would not be asked any question about the source of their funds, rather they would be given tax incentives. He said the money raised through this fund would be used for giving financial assistance to the poor people hit by the COVID-19 at their doorsteps, through Ehsas Programme.
The prime minister also announced “Corona Tiger Force” to help the government and institutions to reach out to the poor people affected by the lockdown in the wake of COVID-19 and provide them with food and other essential items.
“God forbids, if Coronavirus spreads, this youth force in coordination with army and administration will reach out to the poor people,” he said and added that this force besides supplying food and other essential items to the poor, would also help create awareness among people about self-quarantine and other safety measures.
The prime minister said the youth from all segments of society including young doctors, nurses and others could join the Corona Tiger Force. The whole operation of the force would be organized and coordinated by a data cell from the PM Office. Besides, he said, the State Bank of Pakistan had decided to offer soft loans to those industries and factories who would not lay off their employees and laborers in this situation.
The prime minister further said the philanthropists engaged in the charity work in the wake of Coronavirus should get themselves registered at Ehsas Programme, so that a coordinated effort could be made without any duplication and neglecting any segment.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced multi-billion relief package, establishment of youth force and public fund during his address to the nation to fight coronavirus pandemic across Pakistan, ARY News reported on Monday. PM Imran Khan said the world s fighting a war against coronavirus pandemic and Pakistan is also resisting the spread of the virus by utilising all available resources.
“Every state is fight coronavirus under its capacity while China is the only country around the world that became successful to overcome coronavirus pandemic by locking down around 20 million people.”
“We can also put our country on a complete lockdown to fight COVID-19 but 25 per cent of Pakistan’s population is already below the poverty line. It would be our responsibility to provide ration to those people after imposing a lockdown, otherwise, the complete closure will not be beneficial.”
“A lockdown will not be a successful option without providing food to the people as the virus would not differentiate between a rich and a poor person.
“We have to fight coronavirus with unity and wisdom. In India, a complete lockdown was imposed three days ago but [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi is now seeking apology from its nation for the lockdown decision without a strategy. People will definitely die of hunger if India continues its lockdown.”
“I want to tell my nation that we have to fight this war with a strategy. We will take decision after a proper analysis of the country’s situation. If we lockdown any area than it would be possible or not to provide food among the people.” The premier said the federal government has announced biggest-ever relief package in the history of Pakistan as its volume is $8 billion. “Emaan [faith] is our power. Pakistanis are the nation which donates most [around the world] and its young population is the second biggest in the world.”
“With these two powers, we will win the war against coronavirus. I am announcing [establishment of] Corona Relief Tiger Force that will work alongside with armed forces and civil administration.
PM Khan said the force will be comprised of young doctors, drivers and people from any field which would be utilised to provide food and essential commodities to the areas likely to face lockdown. The force will also guide people for self-isolation inside their houses.
The premier has also announced the establishment of Prime Minister’s Corona Relief Fund and vowed to present all details of spendings before the nation to maintain transparency. He added that the account, to be established at State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), will be audited for ensuring the transparency measures.
“I cannot say right now to which extent the virus would spread, however, we will give an estimation with five days or a week. If we go for the lockdown of some areas, Tiger Force will distribute ration among the nationals there.”
He said that only four to five per cent patients have to move to the hospitals for COVID-19 treatment, whereas, 86 per cent people recover their health from the disease. He reiterated that a state cannot win the battle against COVID-19 only by using its resources but to adopt a strong strategy to contain the pandemic.
“The money transferred to the government’s relief fund will not be investigated. The funds will be used if the government needs to increase the volume of its financial aid to the nationals.”
Under the relief package, the central bank will provide easy loans to the firms avoiding to unemploy their labourers.
PM Khan clarified that there was no shortage of food commodities in the country and warned strict action by the federal authorities against hoarders.
The premier appealed the nationals to strict adopt precautionary measures and maintain social distancing to overcome the pandemic. Prime Minister Imran Khan last week announced a multi-billion package involving relief for labour and underprivileged class, business community and industries and farmers amid shutdown in various parts of the country amid coronavirus pandemic.
The prime minister said that they have earmarked Rs 200 billion for labour class and are also in touch with the provinces and business community to devise a strategy as to how they could facilitate the federal government in the process.