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Thursday December 02, 2021

In the name of corona: PM Imran Khan urges opposition to put off rallies

December 11, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday appealed to the opposition to postpone rallies for two to three months, as 64 percent beds in Multan, where it held a rally recently, were now occupied by the corona patients.

In a televised address after chairing a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Covid-19 here, he called for collective efforts to check the spread of the pandemic. The opposition has announced to hold a rally in Lahore on December 13.

Who could hold larger rallies than the PTI government, he said, adding that governments never fall down with such activities. “When the public meetings are held, people come close to each other and the virus spreads faster this way, but the opposition rallies will make no difference to the government,” he contended.

He said the PDM organized its rally in Multan last week and pointed out that there was a timeline with regard to the effects of the virus, like a week or 10 days.

He said 40pc of beds allocated for Covid-19 patients were also occupied in Peshawar, where the 11-party opposition alliance had staged a public meeting last month.

He said approximately 50pc of beds were occupied in Islamabad. “The overall average of Covid-19 beds currently occupied is approximately 40pc. The point is that coronavirus cases are increasing. With the falling temperatures, it will become more difficult to curb the spread of the virus, as it spreads more quickly when people are in rooms instead of being in the open,” Imran continued.

“If the virus keeps spreading at the current rate during the second wave, then our hospitals will fill up. This is the time for the entirenation to take precautions and follow SOPs, which means the biggest SOP to follow is to cover your face. When you cover your face, chances of the virus spreading rapidly decrease,” he said, urging the nation to use facemasks.

The prime minister emphasized that while rallies and protests would not make any difference to the government, the lives of people were being put in danger. “When we already know that the virus is spreading, then these rallies could be held after two or three months so that we can save people's lives.”

With the rapid increase in virus cases, he said, there would be greater pressure on the medical staff, while the world had seen the situation in the US and Europe, where health facilities and resources were much more than in Pakistan. He said the opposition thought it could put pressure on him by holding rallies.

“That’s not the case. But it will endanger people's lives. The winter is coming; we need to save our people otherwise our health workers will be affected. It will put pressure on our hospitals and will affect the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions,” he said.

Meanwhile, the prime minister chaired a meeting of the Working Group of Ravi Urban Development Authority and Pakistan Island Development Authority here, which was attended by Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Special Assistant for Political Communications Dr Shahbaz Gill, Chairman New Pakistan Housing Authority Lt Gen (R) Anwar Ali Haider and Deputy Chairman Major General (R) Amir Aslam Khan, and Chairman Pakistan Island Development Authority Imran Amin.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Advisor to the Punjab Chief Minister Dr. Salman Shah, Special Assistant to the Punjab Chief Minister Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Chairman Ravi Urban Development Authority Rashid Aziz, Chief Secretary Punjab and senior officials concerned participated in the meeting through the video link.

Imran was apprised of the keen interest of Chinese government and companies in investing $3 billion in the project involving no debt. The Prime minister was also briefed on the ANGCC's $5 billion joint venture offer.

A board has been constituted to further expedite progress on the Ravi City project. The work on the project is starting from January. The prime minister emphasized that Ravi City project was historically the most unique and largest project of its kind in Pakistan which would solve the growing problems of Lahore.

Referring to the Pakistan Island Development Authority, the prime minister was informed that environmental and master plan studies would be launched from January in partnership with NGOs to provide employment to the islanders and protect the marine life.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday chaired the weekly meeting of National Coordinating Committee on Housing, Construction and Development here.

The premier emphasized that the process of administrative approval of housing projects should be completed soon. He also emphasized that special care should be taken for environmental protection along with construction.

Advisor Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistants Dr. Shahbaz Gill, Dr. Waqar Masood, Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Malik Amin Aslam, Governor SBP Reza Baqir, Chairman New Pakistan Housing and Development Authority Lt. Gen. (R) Anwar Ali Haider, Chairman FBR and other senior officers attended the meeting while the provincial chief secretaries participated through the video link.

The chief secretaries gave a detailed briefing on the projects approved so far in the provinces. The chairman FBR apprised the meeting of registration of housing projects and said the construction sector had already been given industry status and other tax concessions are available. The secretary petroleum briefed the meeting on the modalities of gas supply to the housing projects.