Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday lamented an elite-centric response to the coronavirus in the country without any without thinking of the poor, but warned the pandemic did not discriminate between rich and the poor.
Addressing a ceremony during his visit to the COMSTECH headquarters in Islamabad, the prime minister said the government-run hospitals would not improve unless the “elite class, including ministers” went there for treatment”.
Stressing that self-belief was the key to development, progress, and self-reliance, Imran expressed his resolve to chalk out a comprehensive plan to improve the living standard of the common man and to bring people out of poverty.
“We have to go towards a knowledge-based economy, education, science and technology to get a dignified place in the comity of nations,” Imran said. “The government is charting out a vision for the country on long-term, not a short-term vision,” he added.
The prime minister stated that the elite was so inspired by the West that it did not think that Pakistan could develop itself. He added that the elite took the decision to impose the lockdown, but it did not think of the daily-wage earner.
However, he warned that the virus did not discriminate. “Coronavirus has shown us that it affected everyone,” he said. “It has shown us that if we do not focus on the poor areas it will also spread to posh areas as well.”
The pandemic, the prime minister pointed out, had also shown to the elite that they could not go abroad for treatment, because the situation was even worse there. “We have to improve our hospitals. Hospitals will not improve unless elite, including ministers, go there for treatment.”
He said there was “a dependency syndrome” and “lack of self-belief” in the society and questioned that how could a country that made nuclear weapons did not know how to make ventilators, sanitisers and disinfectants.
Stressing that “not everything can be imported”, Prime Minister Imran said that Covid-19 pandemic crisis had provided an opportunity for Pakistan to locally-manufacture ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPEs).
Surplus production of PPEs
On the occasion, Imran also visited an exhibition of medical equipment and products manufactured by the public and the private sector organisations. He lauded the efforts of the science and technology ministry’s in this regard.
Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry appraised the prime minister of the cost-effective production of PPE to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. He said Pakistan could export sanitisers and disinfectants “after meeting our local requirement”.
He said that seven types of ventilators, designed by the Pakistan Engineering Council were in clinical trial stage, while the National University of Science and Technology had developed its own testing kit. He added the textile sector was producing protective gears “beyond our domestic consumption”.
Defence Production Minister Zobaida Jalal said that her ministry had achieved the capability to produce around 300,000 to 400,000 liters of sanitisers, 35,000 high-quality masks and 400-500 protective suits per day.
“After the emergence of Covid-19, we mobilised our teams working under the Defence Production Ministry to prepare safety equipment,” she said. “We made all the production possible with our own resources,” she added.