Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that in addition to using its own resources, the government is raising funds because the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis will "further worsen".
Speaking during a telethon held on a private television channel to collect donations for the Prime Minister's Corona Relief Fund, the premier said that "nobody can predict whether this corona will go on for six months or eight months or even next year," adding that countries need to prepare their systems to deal with the pandemic.
"Some 12 million people are being distributed money for rations through the Ehsaas Cash Programme. We have a list of 12 million people but we will keep increasing the number of people [as the crisis drags on]," he said.
The premier added that while doing relief work during the 2005 earthquake and the floods that devastated huge parts of the country, he had observed mismanagement. "There were some areas that received so many relief items that people started selling them while some distance away, there were people who were starving."
Underscoring the necessity of coordinating relief efforts, the prime minister said the government would soon launch a website where it would register both the people and charitable organisations that wanted to donate as well as people who were deserving. "The process is transparent, and there is no political bias," he assured.
Addressing medical professionals throughout the country, he said that the government would try to provide complete protective kits to them, regretting that such products have to be imported.
"The country that could make an atomic bomb could very easily make ventilators but we never focused on our health sector," he said.
The premier once again highlighted the need to think about "people living in slums" and labourers while enforcing sweeping lockdown measures.
"Our situation is very different from that of America or Europe. We have huge clusters of people living in slums, poor people who live in confined spaces. We cannot ask these people to quarantine themselves and not provide them food," he said, while explaining the need for the Corona Tigers Relief Force. He added that the force would help in delivering food during the lockdown.
Citing the example of China, he said Pakistan will come out of the coronavirus crisis stronger "but only if we think of the downtrodden people".
"No federal or provincial government alone can win the war against the coronavirus, only national unity can," the premier concluded.