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Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Sunday that there is forecast of three-percent contraction in the world economy involving trillions and this economic slide would leave impact on Pakistan's and other economies due to COVID-19.

"Economic slow-down would deplete our foreign reserves as Pakistani labour in the Middle East was laid off as a result of the coronavirus outbreak," he said while talking to media during his visit to the Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS) here today.

Answering a question, Qureshi said the government has to fight both against coronavirus and hunger. He said the traders are wary of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and want the lockdown to be relaxed to keep the wheel of economy moving. However, he said the government would evolve a national strategy based on the holistic picture taking into consideration all pros and cons. He maintained that COVID-19 pandemic is a long battle and it may take six months or more to defeat the deadly virus.

He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan raised voice for the Pakistan and 75 other countries when he asked the G-20 to give debt relief in the wake of coronavirus pandemic so that the money could be used to strengthen healthcare facilities for the masses.

The minister said the world is resorting to smart lockdown which practices variations in lockdown and eases lockdown in the areas with less number of coronavirus cases. Prime Minister Imran Khan believes that a government cannot be inconsiderate to the economic impacts on the people in its decision to impose lockdown, he said.

When asked about accountability of sugar mafia, the minister said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) believed in across the board accountability and the forensic audit report on sugar would be made public in three weeks' time.

Talking about India, the minister said: "India had not mend its ways despite the global pandemic and unleashed a new wave of brutalities against the hapless Kashmiris in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. I have written letter to the President of the Security Council while I am in close contact with the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) on the Kashmir issue."

Qureshi thanked Chinese government and the people for their support in the fight against Corona. He however, said we are ready to learn from the best practices from all the countries to defeat the virus.

He also appreciated the services and sacrifices of the medical professionals in their fight against COVID-19 at home and abroad. He said the two British-Pakistani doctors laid down their lives in their fight against coronavirus as part of the National Health Services (NHS) in the United Kingdom. He said the Pakistani medical professionals across the globe had made the nation proud and they served as the ambassadors of the country at the foreign lands.

Earlier, Shah Mehmood Qureshi visited the SIMS and handed over Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the medical professionals on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On the other hand, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar while talking to the Punjab Forest Minister Sibtain Khan and others at Governor's House said that smart lockdown's success depends on implementation of SOPs, otherwise, it will cause more harm than good.

The Governor said that the people were facing severe economic crisis alongside serious health issues. "The industries being allowed to open up their businesses must implement the SOPs and save precious lives," he asserted. He said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan the government was taking steps to help all those, who lost their jobs during the ongoing pandemic crisis. The daily wagers, workers at shops and industries could get themselves registered at a separate portal in the 'Ehsaas Kafalat Programme' and receive Rs 12,000 financial assistance, he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020