FM addresses Pakistani community in US through video-link
Sheds light on government's efforts to mitigate Covid-19 effects on the economy
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said Pakistan was once again in a difficult economic situation.
Addressing overseas Pakistani community via video-link, in light of the increasing number of deaths in the US due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), the minister said Pakistan’s exports have plummeted and remittances are estimated to go down by 22 to 23 per cent.
He added that fiscal deficits will go up and might be back in double-digits, from 9.5 to 10 per cent of the country's GDP according to predictions, although the situation remains unpredictable.
"We have taken certain steps in our limited fiscal space. The government has announced an $8 billion relief package," said the foreign minister.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the government has taken the initiatives to protect the poor segments of the society and support the economy at this difficult juncture.
He said the support for the Prime Minister's Relief Fund for Covid-19 is also encouraging.
FM Qureshi further apprised the overseas Pakistani community over Prime Minister Imran Khan’s efforts in launching a global debt relief initiative.
The premier is trying to mobilise Pakistani community both in and outside the country to contribute to the PM relief funds and has received encouraging support, the foreign minister said.
FM assured that Pakistan has enhanced its capacity to bring back 7,000 stranded Pakistanis from abroad every week.
H expressed the confidence that this figure will go up in the coming weeks.
“It is our utmost endeavour to bring back all the registered 60,000 stranded Pakistanis before Eidul Fitr,” he said adding that 10,000 Pakistanis have already been brought back.
Pakistanis in US
The foreign minister recognized that the Pakistani community in the United States has always played a very vibrant role and demonstrated large heartedness. He said the entire Pakistani nation is grateful to the contributions made by the Pakistani American during difficult times.
The foreign minister said the coronavirus respects no borders and collective efforts are required to deal with this unprecedented challenge.
As coronavirus cases continue to spike in different areas of the United States – with more than 856,000 confirmed cases in the country – three more Pakistanis succumbed to the virus in Chicago over the past week.
Sources in the Pakistani Consulate confirmed the development and said that more than a dozen Pakistanis are in isolation centres and are under treatment.
“The three people who died included an owner of the Usmania Restuarant, Mohammad Islam alias Islam Bhai, 72, in the Devon Avenue, where a majority of Pakistanis live. Two other men aged 60 and 76 also passed away,” said an official from the consulate requesting not be named.
According to community activists, the funeral prayers of the deceased persons were held at the Islamic Centre in Chicago and they laid to rest in the local graveyard.