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Pakistan

Web Desk
April 1, 2020

Pakistan's debt restructuring suggestion gaining traction: FM Qureshi

Pakistan

Web Desk
Wed, Apr 01, 2020
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Photo: File 

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that Pakistan's suggestion for wealthier countries to consider debt restructuring  so that lesser developed countries can allocate funds to their health sectors, is gaining traction.

"The UN secretary general agreed with this and spoke about the same during   the G20 session. So this is gaining traction," Qureshi told Geo Pakistan.

"Pakistan is leading the fight from this front and is trying to  raise this matter in this world."

He said that he had written to the foreign ministers of European Union countries   telling them that underdeveloped regions are under immense economic pressure; they are drowning in debt and have limited resources and can not beef up their health systems to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Speaking of big economies also facing the crunch, Qureshi said: "The spread of the coronavirus is a danger faced not only by Pakistan but the whole world. You can see what the situation is like in US where figures have crossed that of China. Europe, a country which has better medical facilities, is also overwhelmed."

He said Pakistan is gradually increasing its quarantine and testing capacity.

The country has reported 2,046 cases of the virus and 26 deaths.

Qureshi added that a lockdown was necessary to save human lives along with social distancing to curb the spread of the virus. “However, it is also important that we maintain smooth supply of essential items,” he added.

Speaking about the lockdown in neighbouring India, Qureshi said the 21-day lockdown was imposed without being given much thought. “The government of Narendra Modi is now apologising to its citizens after a serious migration problem developed there and the stock market was affected,” he noted.

He added the economic situation of developing countries was not stable enough to survive the crisis. “This is why we need to reschedule loans. A proposal in this regard was presented in the G-20 meeting, which the United Nations has also agreed to,” he added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly rejected the proposal of putting the entire country under lockdown, despite the provincial governments doing so. Sindh was the first to announce a complete lockdown for 15 days followed by Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

“Pakistan cannot afford to impose a total lockdown. 25% of the people in the country live below the poverty line,” the prime minister said in an address to the nation on March 22.

"What will happen to them if I go ahead with the lockdown?" he said.

The premier had added that if the situation in the country had escalated as it had in Italy and China he would have thought about imposing a lockdown. “Let me tell you what a lockdown is. A lockdown means putting a curfew and restricting people to their homes with the military on the streets,” he said.

He had added that the virus could be curbed if people stopped attending gatherings and weddings and started staying at home to ensure the minimum spread of the virus.