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April 27, 2021

Corona situation critical, but no panic: Fawad

 
April 27, 2021

KARACHI: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Chaudhry admitted on Monday that there was a crisis due to Covid situation, but no panic.

While talking at a webinar, convened by the CPG Dialogue platform on ‘Pakistan at the Crossroads’, along with Muhammad Azfar Ahsan, founder of Corporate Pakistan Group (CPG) and Nutshell Group, the federal minister said, “When the first wave struck, we were totally unprepared and could not locally make any of the required apparatus, but in the past two years we have learned a lot and prepared ourselves, so we are tackling the situation even though we are facing the highest percentage of the positivity rate and that is 11 percent.”

Commenting on vaccinations in the country, Fawad Chaudhry mentioned that so far, 1,843,000 people have been vaccinated in the country, while our first target is to vaccinate 26 million people and later to scale it to 100 million individuals for vaccines in the second phase. He showed concerns about the increasing danger as the end of Ramazan is close, where the people usually flock at mosques and shopping centers. He expressed the hope that the people at large would act sensibly and consider the gravity of the situation.

The minister said he was thankful to the organisers of Raiwind annual congregation for cancelling their event. About shortages of vaccines, he said the government has been making every effort to acquire vaccines but at the moment only two countries, China and Russia, are exporting, while India has stopped exports due to the current situation of the country.

He also talked about the information ministry, saying he is determined to revamp the ministry and its operations through bringing structural changes.

Expressing his views about the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), Fawad Chaudhry said the APP needed to be digitalised to bring it at par with the news agencies like Reuters, AFP and others in order to cope with the global challenges. On a question by Azfar regarding image marketing of Pakistan as part of the ministry’s responsibility, Fawad Chaudhry indicated that the paucity of capable human resources hindered the ministry to work properly on it.

On the subject of improving local talk shows, the minister said he could not interfere with private channels. He also pointed out that in other countries sports get the majority of advertisements followed by entertainment shows and politics, but in Pakistan it is the contrary. Answering a question about entering into negotiations with TLP, after declaring it a banned-outfit, he said not only the government but the businesses should also stop supporting such organisations that resorted to violence. He said it is a formidable task and all concerned departments have been looking into the issue.

In response to a question about any hope of improvement in Karachi, Fawad said unfortunately after the 18th Amendment, it is not possible for the federal government to intervene in the provincial matters, and Sindh government has no interest in development of the city. He said Rangers have been in Karachi since 1990 and Sindh government paid them a hefty amount each year but has not been able to develop its own police force yet. He once again emphasised that the governor's rule is not possible after the 18th Amendment.

About India-Pakistan relations, Chaudhry said India needed to show solid steps that included reversal of Kashmir to its original position, as we could not make peace by ignoring people of Indian occupied Kashmir.