ISLAMABAD: Amid the growing criticism over the federal authorities' decision of not imposing countrywide complete lockdown, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the government is constantly monitoring the situation and if need be it could impose the curfew in the country "which would be the last option" to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.
“Chaos is more dangerous than coronavirus if we take any decision in haste it will have more disastrous consequences than coronvirus on the society,” he said while briefing journalists on the steps being taken by his government to deal with COVID-19 crisis on Tuesday.
The nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients has soared to 956 with 407 cases in Sindh; 110 in Balochistan; 265 in Punjab; 78 in K-P; 80 in Gilgit-Baltistan; 15 in Islamabad; and one in Azad Jammu and Kashmir – with six deaths
"Curfew is the last stage of lockdown... false perception is being created that I am against the lockdown," he said, adding that the federal government announced lockdown after the National Security Council meeting earlier this month.
'Chaos is more dangerous than coronavirus'
“I am opposing curfew because it will have dire consequences for the downtrodden segment of the society.. how would they meet their ends during the curfew.”
Complete shutdown will disrupt the supply chain of food items and medical equipment, PM Imran said. “This is not a T-20 match and the crisis may continue for six or seven months.”
“However, if situation worsens, then we will have no option but to impose curfew but with comprehensive strategy,” he added.
“We will form a team of volunteers to distribute food items to the poor if curfew is imposed,” he also said.
Briefing the newsmen, PM Imran further said that he would have imposed curfew immediately if situation in Pakistan was as bad as it is in Italy and rest of Europe "because we have a large number of young population".
“But in Pakistan considering the economic situation it is not feasible to impose curfew,” he maintained.
The premier said that there can be a difference of opinion over the strategy to cope with the crisis and the Sindh government is empowered to impose a curfew under 18th amendment.
The federal government, he said, would not dictate the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments. "I will just issue guidelines and they will take their decisions in view of the ground realities."
The premier said his government is fully aware of the situation and working on a war footing basis to deal with any emergency situation in the wake of coronavirus.
“We are constantly monitoring the situation and preparing paramedical staff and arranging ventilators to deal with the coronavirus crisis.”
PM Imran said that the government has approved the stimulus package to help the poor and the business community during the time of crisis.
“We have allocated Rs200 billion for labourers… we will immediately release Rs100 billion tax refunds to exporters and industry as they are backbone of the economy,” he announced.
The premier also announced to reduce the prices of petroleum products by Rs15.
وزیراعظم عمران خان کا سینئر صحافیوں سے مکالمہ https://t.co/G55K59BLXy— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) March 24, 2020