were mainly occupied with the outbreak of coronavirus in the country last week. The country has been debating the impact of lockdown on a country where a majority of the population relies on daily wages. The government has been criticised for failing to enforce a stringent lockdown to stall the outbreak.
Here is a the weekly round-up of developments in Pakistan –
Coronavirus: More than 892 cases in Pakistan
The Sindh province of Pakistan reported 42 new coronavirus cases on Monday- three in Karachi and 39 in Sukkur. The provincial tally is now 394. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reported around 40 cases as of Monday. The total number of Covid-19 cases in Punjab has now gone up to 246. Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) “Prime Minister” Raja Farooq Haider announced that a complete lockdown will be imposed in the region for three weeks starting midnight on Monday.
Imran Khan rules out lockdown; Centre, provinces not on the same page
Prime Minister Imran Khan last weekend appealed to the people to go for self-quarantine, saying this was the best precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus since the government could not lock down the entire country keeping in view multiple problems the move would create. Khan said: “Lockdown yourself because if I lock down the entire country it will create a lot of problems.” Pakistani officials have given conflicting advice on the best course of action against the coronavirus. PM Khan has argued the impoverished nation cannot afford the type of wide-scale lockdowns being implemented in the West, saying people living below the poverty line would be unable to support themselves without working. But Pakistan’s two most populous provinces of Punjab and Sindh — home to some 160 million people — have issued their lockdown decrees for an initial period of two weeks. On Monday, Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) too announced a two-week lockdown. Meanwhile, former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar, in a Youtube video called for a national lockdown, lambasting, what he called, the casual approach of a few people amid the rapidly-growing crisis.
Pakistan approves military deployment to curb the virus
Pakistan on Monday authorised the army to deploy across the country and in the capital Islamabad in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The interior ministry announcement, which came as the death toll from coronavirus rose to six, means troops will be able to assist the civilian government with logistics and in providing supplies if needed. It also means troops could, if called on, help enforce any eventual curfews as the crisis worsens — as observers fear it will in a country with large illiterate populations in crowded urban centres where many people are ignoring guidelines on “social distancing”. In a statement, the interior ministry said it was “pleased to authorise” deployment of “sufficient” troops, depending on needs. Pakistan’s constitution allows the civilian government to call for military aid in case of disasters and natural calamities, such as in the aftermath of a 2005 earthquake that killed more than 73,000 people.
Activist rebukes Pakistan for shifting coronavirus positive cases to PoK
Kashmiri political activists have rebuked Pakistan for shifting Coronavirus affected people from the eastern province of Punjab and the rest of the country to Mirpur city in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Nasir Aziz Khan, spokesperson of United Kashmir People’ National Party said, “27 people were brought here on Monday, of which 13 were coronavirus positive. Locals said that there are plans to shift hundreds of other patients from Pakistan”. “We want to ask Pakistan government: Do they not have infrastructure including hospitals and doctors in Punjab? In the last 73 years, you have failed to set up a good hospital and a lab in PoK,” he said while adding that it was unacceptable that they brought patients from Punjab and the rest of Pakistan to Mirpur and PoK. The activists said that the Pakistani establishment was deliberately spreading the coronavirus to get international aid.
Coronavirus: Pakistan may face economic loses of Rs 1.3 trillion
Pakistan’s initial economic losses in various sectors have been estimated at Rs 1.3 trillion in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. These losses will be incurred on account of the drop in the GDP growth because of reduction in the services sector, including airline business and others, Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) loss, the massive decline in imports, exports, reduction in remittances, and disruption in food supplies, The News International reported.
The preliminary assessment of losses done by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) stood at $5 billion but Pakistan’s top officials argued that these estimates were less than the expected actual losses. The Planning Commission of Pakistan estimated that the size of the country’s GDP stood at Rs 44 trillion and one-fourth stood at Rs 11 trillion, so the disruption caused by Coronavirus was expected to cause at least 10 per cent losses in the last quarter (April-June) that would stand at Rs 1.1 trillion at least. The FBR has already been facing massive revenue shortfall before the virus outbreak despite slashing down the FBR’s annual target from Rs 5.555 trillion to Rs 5.238 trillion.
Pakistan at 66th spot in UN World Happiness Report
Pakistan was at 66th spot in the United Nations World Happiness Report with 5.693 points.
The list of 156 nations was topped by Finland with a score of 7.809. Denmark (7.646) and Switzerland (7.560) at the no 2 and 3 spots. Followed by Iceland (7.504) and Norway (7.488).
The report was based on data collected in the years 2018 and 2019. The ranking was based on people’s level of happiness, GDP growth, social support, personal freedom and the level of corruption in the country.
A subdued Pakistan Day amidst coronavirus lockdown
Pakistan observed its 79th Pakistan Day on March 23 amidst the scare of coronavirus outbreak in the country.
All celebratory events were cancelled, barring a 31-gun salute in Islamabad and a 21 gun-salute in the four provincial capitals. The traditional parade in the national capital Islamabad was also cancelled as troops have been deployed to tackle the outbreak of coronavirus.
Pakistan Day is observed to commemorate the passing of the Lahore Resolution in 1940 where Muslim leaders of the Sub-continent set the agenda for a separate homeland for the Muslims.