‘Smart lockdown’ only option to contain Covid-19: Pakistani PM

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan. Photo by INP. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

ISLAMABAD, Jun 7, 2020, Pakistan Today. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said that the only solution to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic is to implement a “smart lockdown” and adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs), Pakistan Today reported.

The PM’s statement comes amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and deaths related to the deadly virus after the easing of restrictions in Pakistan.

“A lockdown means collapse of the economy & in poorer countries a steep rise in poverty, crushing the poor as happened in Modi’s lockdown in India,” he tweeted on Saturday minutes after misquoting the national poet, Allama Iqbal.

“Only solution as world has discovered is smart lockdown which allows for economic activity with SOPs. We are amongst pioneers of this approach. I appeal to civil society, media, Ulema & our tiger force to create awareness amongst the public of COVID19’s severity & the need to strictly observe SOPs.”

He also shared a video of a private TV channel report, depicting the dilemma faced by the federal government.

“This video shows the dilemma confronting our govt today: On the one hand we have the masses who are not taking the COVID19 pandemic seriously & on the other hand, understandably, we have our frontline doctors & health professionals, who are at great risk,” he said and criticised the elites for demanding complete lockdown, saying that their income would remain unaffected regardless.

“Some of the elite wanting a lockdown — the elite who have the privilege of spacious homes & income unaffected by fallout of lockdown.”

On Friday, the premier ruled out the imposition of another lockdown in the country.

“Pakistan cannot go back to another lockdown. We can’t afford it,” the premier said in a televised address to the Corona Relief Tiger Force.

“That’s why we need you [Tiger Force] to spread awareness [about Covid-19 precautionary measures],” he added.

The prime minister maintained that if the force succeeded in convincing citizens into following Covid-19 guidelines, the rate at which the infection was spreading would slow down.

“Coronavirus will spread. You can’t stop it from spreading,” he said, adding that the lockdowns across the world had only exacerbated conditions for the poor.

The prime minister also defended the government’s decision to keep mosques open, maintaining that no virus cases were traced back to them.

“We were the first Muslim country which said we will not close our mosques and carry on Taraweeh prayers,” he said.

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