ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that the government will welcome any input from the opposition to face the challenge of coronavirus.

Addressing a meeting of the parliamentary leaders in the National Assembly and Senate via video link, Imran Khan urged political parties to come forward and join forces with the government to reassess the situation.

The Prime Minister said at the moment, he believes that we should not go for a complete lockdown and complete shutdown of the transport because it will affect food and other supplies. He said complete lockdown will also have a disastrous impact on the construction industry leaving the labour class jobless, and, “we should take care of this.”

Imran Khan said any decision taken out of fear and panic will have its repercussions, which should be kept in view before taking any extreme step. The Prime Minister said he will keep his views over the negative impact of lockdown in National Coordination Committee meeting being held today (Thursday).

Prime Minister said, “Since provinces have taken their decisions, in tomorrow’s National Coordination Committee’s meeting, I will put forward recommendations based on the assessments made by my team.

I feel that we will have to constantly reassess. Because every step we take has a repercussion for society.”

He said the government is working on raising a volunteer force to enhance response to fight the disease and provide relief to the poor people. The Prime Minister said imposing a national lockdown would be detrimental for the country’s economy, adding that it was not possible to “rationally judge the repercussions of decisions taken out of fear and panic.”

“Only the nation can defeat coronavirus, no government can do it,” asserted the Prime Minister. The premier, while urging leaders to reassess the situation said: “There are types of lockdown; initially we imposed lockdown by shutting down schools and universities and cancelling matches.

He said told the parliamentary leaders that until yesterday out of the 900 coronavirus cases reported in Pakistan, only 153 were locally transmitted.

“In a way this is a very good thing for us,” he said, pointing out that the rest of the cases had been imported from other countries. He said that the Sindh government believed that they should go beyond that because of the 18th Amendment and provinces are free to take their own decisions.

 

“The Centre and I were of the opinion that we should not go as far as Sindh at the time. But then there was pressure from the media. Under that pressure, KP, Punjab and Balochistan also imposed incremental lockdown,” he added. He went on to say that imposing a lockdown, under which transport had to be suspended, would affect poor people, especially in villages.

 

Prime Minister said: “I believe that we should not go towards a lockdown in which we shut down transport. I believe that we will have to face huge problems on the supply side. Already there is a shortage of oil in Gilgit-Baltistan because there is a lockdown on transport.

 

“Wheat is being harvested; diesel will be required in villages for transport. I feel that this lockdown will affect our construction industry and there will be unemployment on a huge scale, he maintained.