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Mosques to be closed if corona spreads in Ramazan: PM Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday advised the nation to pray at home during the Ramazan and warned that if the coronavirus spread in a mosque, then it would be closed. He was expressing these views while chairing a high level meeting here which discussed the coronavirus situation and the related matters.

“Our government decided to relax the lockdown gradually by opening the cement sector first and then construction industry and the industries that are being opened will have to follow the SOPs given by the government,” he said. The prime minister said the Corona Tiger Force was unduly being criticized and made controversial by the opposition. He explained that the force comprised volunteers and would be working without any remuneration or political affiliation.

“They will disseminate information as well as deliver ration to the people on their doorstep and help the authorities in locating the deserving persons, as the government on its own can’t reach out to all,” he noted. He again warned the hoarders and smugglers of a strong action under the related ordinance and called those exploiting people for their undue benefit as the nation’s criminals.

Minister Planning and Development Asad Umar said a consensus had been evolved among all the provinces on testing, tracking and isolation, and pilot tests in one or two districts of each province. He said a smart lockdown would be implemented in high-risk areas and in next few days, it would be put in operation from district to tehsil and union council level.

He explained that the technology-based mechanism would have representation down to the union council level from the federal government and the civil and the military institutions would also be part of it. He said India peddled a narrative that the virus was spread by pushing people into India through the AJK and then the Indian Muslims were blamed for it and now it was blaming Pakistan. He made it clear that Pakistan had no interest in such things, as it always wanted an environment of peace and brotherhood.

Focal person on Corona Dr. Faisal said Pakistan was relatively in a better position than many developed countries of the world. However, he insisted, “We need to keep this by following the precautionary measures strictly. We hope that things would be better through the smart lockdown, ensuring protection of people and their livelihood”.

Special Assistant to the PM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr. Sania Nishtar said more than Rs60 billion had been disbursed among the needy and deserving people under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme. She expressed optimism that the programme will be able to reach 120 million families. She said the prime minister inaugurated the Ehsaas Ration Portal in which charities and philanthropic organizations could register themselves. “This program will help daily wagers, who are not able to work due to the lockdown, to get ration,” she said. Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar said a large package will be presented in a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Wednesday (today). After its approval by the National Coordination Committee (NCC) and the federal cabinet, it would be advertised in the media. This package aims at helping people who have lost their jobs due to lockdown, he explained.

He said another package was being brought for electricity and it would be launched later this month. He said small and medium businesses with commercial meters will benefit from this package. The minister said the government was working with the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank of Pakistan to introduce a scheme of loans for people having no collateral to offer. Special Assistant to the PM on National Security Dr. Moeed Yusuf said Torkham and Chaman crossings had been opened and a specified number of Pakistanis had started returning from Afghanistan. He said the border with India was closed but some Pakistanis had returned while the Foreign Office was on it for the return of the rest.

He said as soon as border with India opened, more Pakistanis will be able to return home. APP adds: Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar Tuesday said the cabinet had formally approved making the power sector inquiry report public with an official ownership. Addressing a televised media briefing, he said the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved recommendations about the inquiry report presented by the CCOE.

He said the government and prime minister believed in transparency across the board and by embarking on this policy, the prime minister had decided to present all the inquiries and investigations before the nation to root out corruption from the country. Asad Umar, who is also Chairman of the CCOE, made it clear that the power projects and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) against whom the inquiries were conducted had been initiated in the previous governments.

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