Pakistan’s prime minister hails new initiative to directly link donors to impoverished via an app produced by the government
The coming month will be “very difficult,” Prime Minister Imran Khan warned on Monday, as he once again defended his decision to avoid a nationwide lockdown in the midst of a spiraling death toll due to the novel coronavirus.
Addressing a press briefing from Islamabad to announce the launch of three new initiatives under the Ehsaas umbrella, Khan said the elderly and those already suffering from serious diseases were the most vulnerable to COVID-19. “So long as we can protect these people, the impact of the pandemic will not be too bad,” he said, adding that the next month would prove “very difficult” but the country had the courage to overcome it.
The prime minister said Pakistan’s circumstances were different from that of China’s Wuhan or Europe. He reiterated his claims that the pandemic had destroyed Western economies, and once again took aim at India over its harsh lockdown.
“So it had to happen in our country [too],” he said. “And if provinces would have asked me I would never have allowed such a lockdown. Because when you are about to impose a lockdown, you should think about the effects your decisions will have on the masses,” he said, as he once again said he had never been in favor of any kind of movement restrictions.
Referring to ongoing criticism over his refusal to implement a nationwide lockdown, Khan claimed critics had wanted him to enforce measures similar to those introduced by India’s Narendra Modi. “I thank God that I resisted pressure and didn’t do that,” he said, reiterating the findings of a report that claimed 34 percent of India’s population was facing hunger and extreme poverty following the lockdown.
The prime minister also claimed that lockdowns had forced the impoverished to go hungry and reiterated an unverified story that mobs of ravenous needy in Islamabad had resorted to attacking motorists due to hunger. He also slammed the Sindh government for placing the impoverished “under lockdown,” claiming there was no need to do so. He did not offer any similar chastising of any other province, despite all governments implementing the same lockdown in the initial two weeks.
Praising Special Assistant to the P.M. on Poverty Alleviation Sania Nishtar, Khan said her team had successfully distributed billions of rupees to the impoverished in a very short span of time. He said that he had launched the Prime Minister’s COVID Relief Fund to aid in those efforts by providing relief to people who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic. He once again reiterated that the government would donate Rs. 4 for every Re. 1 donated to the Fund to ensure maximum relief for the public.
Earlier, Nishtar unveiled the Ehsaas Program’s latest initiatives, the Ehsaas Rashan portal, the Ehsaas Langar portal, and the Panagah app. Under these measures, she said, donors would be directly linked to the needy on a single platform so philanthropists could directly provide aid to the impoverished public.
The prime minister appreciated the initiative, saying this way the government would not be involved as a go-between for donors and the needy. He said the government would merely continue to facilitate a connection between donors and deserving people.
Khan promised that the government would gradually increase the number of Panagahs and Langarkhanas across the country, adding that donors would be informed how the funds they had donated were being utilized for the welfare of the people. “Pakistanis are one of the most charitable people on the planet, and we do not appreciate this enough,” he added.