Tuesday Apr 21, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that action will be taken if the 20-point agreement regarding safety precautions and mosques' SOPs between the government and ulema are not implemented by people in Ramazan.
The prime minister was updating masses on the latest situation regarding the coronavirus with his ministers and advisors. PM Imran said that Pakistan was an "independent nation" hence it could not force worshippers to not pray in mosques.
"The war for coronavirus is being fought by the entire country. It [coronavirus] will not differentiate between the rich and the poor. It can happen to anyone," he said. "If we deploy police outside mosques and throw worshippers in prisons, independent nations do not behave like this," he added.
PM Imran said that Pakistani ulema signed a 20-point agreement with President Alvi that contained SOPs and conditions based on which mosques will be allowed to remain open in Ramazan. He, however, urged people to pray at home.
"I would urge my Pakistanis to stay at home and pray," he said. "Other Muslim countries have urged their citizens to do the same. But if you have to go to mosques, keep this in mind. You will have to obey these conditions," he added.
The prime minister said that if people did not follow the safety precautions and coronavirus cases surged among people who pray in mosques during Ramazan, then the government will have no choice but to "take back its decision".
PM Imran said that the government will close mosques if the SOPs are not implemented in letter and spiirt, adding that the same was mentioned in the agreement. "No one wants to see mosques empty," he said.
The premier said that several countries were thinking about easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions as governments wanted to strike a balance between protecting people and ensuring economic activity was regulated.
"A debate has started in countries whether to ease or lift the lockdown and at the same time, save people from the coronavirus," he said. "Countries, where 500-600 people have died so far, are opening shops and easing the lockdown."
He said that an "indefinite lockdown" was not possible in any society. PM Imran emphasised that no one knew when the coronavirus will end. "Governments don't even know if coronavirus cases will resurface once after they have been controlled or not," he said.
The prime minister said that his government had started the revival of economic activities by opening the construction sector. "Other countries are trying to figure out how to recover from the economic setback [of the coronavirus]. Keeping in mind Pakistan's dismal economic conditions, our priority is to bring our people out of poverty," he said.
He announced that the government had set up an Ehsaas Ration portal through which multinational companies and generous people will be provided an opportunity to help the poor.
Speaking about the Coronavirus Relief Tiger Force, PM Imran said that it was disappointing how the volunteer force was being politicised. "At times, I am shocked at the opposition," he said, adding that the tiger force will not receive any funds as it was comprised of volunteers.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar rejected Indian propaganda that Pakistan was sending coronavirus patients through Azad Kashmir into the country.
He slammed Modi's lockdown, saying that it had caused thousands to panic and gather at public places. "Leave it, worry about your own citizens. We will worry about our own," he said to Modi.
Dr Faisal Sultan said that PM Imran had decided he would get tested for the coronavirus after it emerged that a man who met the prime minister a few days ago had tested positive for the infection.
It must be kept in mind that the prime minister had met Edhi Foundation head Faisal Edhi on April 15. Edhi had donated a large sum for PM Imran's coronavirus relief fund.
Speaking on the number of infections in Pakistan, Dr Sultan said that it was expected that the number of cases in the country would reach 12,000-15,000 by the end of April.