Special committee on pandemic meets today

Updated April 06, 2020

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Committee comprises 25 members; meeting to be chaired by Asad Qaiser. — APP/File
Committee comprises 25 members; meeting to be chaired by Asad Qaiser. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The newly-constituted special parliamentary committee on the coronavirus crisis in its first meeting on Monday (today) will receive comprehensive briefings from key ministers and senior government officials about the steps taken by them to curb the transmission of Covid-19 and for the treatment of patients.

The meeting of the 25-member committee will be presided over by Speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaiser.

According to the meeting agenda issued by the National Assembly Secretariat, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Adviser to the PM on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood will brief the members of the committee on economic and business plans for the revival of the economy.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal will also brief the panel on Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and measures taken to respond to the worsening pandemic.

Most of the committee members are expected to join the meeting by a video link adhering to government’s guidelines on social distancing put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 that has now affected over a million people across the globe.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority survive. But for older adults and people with existing health conditions, it can be more severe, even causing pneumonia or death.

Coronavirus has led to more than 40 fatalities in Pakistan.

The parliamentary committee comprising 12 MNAs and 13 senators includes a number of political heavyweights like Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Information Technology Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Minister for Housing and Works Chaudhry Tariq Bashir Cheema, parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Khawaja Asif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Asad Mehmood of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), Khalid Magsi of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), Shahzain Bugti of the Jamhoori Watan Party, Amir Haider Hoti of the Awami National Party (ANP), Akhtar Mengal of the Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) and Ghous Bux Mahar of the Grand Democratic Alliance.

Those who have been nominated for the committee representing the Senate are Leader of the House Syed Shibli Faraz, parliamentary leader of the PML-N Mushahidullah Khan, PPP’s parliamentary leader Sherry Rehman, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Aurangzeb Khan from the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), Mir Hasil Bizenjo of the National Party, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the JUI-F, Sirajul Haq (Jamaat-i-Islami), Usman Kakar (Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party), Sitara Ayaz (ANP), Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini (BNP-Mengal), Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah (PML-F) and Anwarul Haq Kakar of the BAP.

Moreover, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Swati and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and SAPM on Health Dr Mirza are part of the committee as ex-officio members.

In a statement issued here on Sunday, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser said the fight against the coronavirus pandemic was a national cause and all the political parties and institutions needed to unite to overcome it. He called for a unified strategy to fight the coronavirus and its aftermath.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2020