Cabinet approves easing lockdown after May 9

Published May 6, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and federal ministers, all wearing masks, attend a meeting.—PPI
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and federal ministers, all wearing masks, attend a meeting.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved easing lockdown restrictions in the country gradually after May 9 to open earning facilities to workers and daily wage earners provided strict implementation of the coronavirus-related preventive measures suggested by the government is ensured.

The National Coordi­nation Committee (NCC) will meet on Wednesday (today) in which the Centre and provinces will decide which businesses and industries will be reopened during the easing of restrictions.

The cabinet also took another decision by approving a summary of the religious affairs ministry for not including Ahmadis in the National Commission for Minorities (NCM).

“Prime Minister Imran Khan, who always remains concerned about poor, daily wage earners and weak segments of society, decided that small businesses and transport to some extent should be reopened so that these people could have a chance to earn,” Infor­mation Minister Shibli Faraz said at a post-cabinet meeting press conference.

He said the prime minister, however, warned that threat from the viral disease was not over and could strike again if the government’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) were not followed. “The prime minister was of the view that the situation can turn worse if SOPs are not implemented and followed after soft opening of businesses and industries,” Mr Faraz added.

Okays religious affairs ministry’s summary for not including Ahmadis in commission for minorities

The government is going to open more businesses and sectors despite a surge in Covid-19 cases that crossed the 22,000 mark with over 500 deaths in the country. Punjab and Sindh have also announced some relaxation in lockdown by allowing reopening of some businesses like garment/cloth, shoes, automobile and spare parts.

The prime minister again urged the nation to follow SOPs and maintain social distancing when the lockdown was lifted gradually. “The meeting endorsed Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan’s note that this is the only war [against coronavirus] which can be won by staying at home,” the information minister said.

He said the cabinet had decided not to include Ahmadis in the National Commission for Minorities as its members. “Today the religious minister has come up with a summary that suggested non-inclusion of any Ahmadi in the commission because they do not fall in the definition of minorities,” he added.

Interestingly, it was re­ported in the media a few days ago that the religious affairs ministry had prepared a summary under whi­ch Qadyanis will be­come part of the NCM. The news generated a new controversy in the country as some clerics strongly opposed the move and reacted against the government.

Mr Faraz said the cabinet made the decision about the NCM formation with consensus and none of the cabinet members raised objection over non-inclusion of Qadyanis in the commission.

He said it was decided in the meeting that all cabinet members would deposit their one-month salary in the PM’s Coronavirus Relief Fund. He said the meeting was apprised that a total of 1,376 decisions had so far been made by this forum [cabinet], of which 86 per cent had been implemented.

About the criminal justice system, the prime minister stressed the need for completing the required reforms in six months and ordered changing police stations’ culture in the country.

The prime minister, Mr Faraz said, also reviewed import of life-saving drugs from India whose import was allowed despite a ban on all kinds of trade with the neighbouring country due its illegal actions in held Kashmir. “In fact the prime minister wanted to know if there was any violation of his order to import only life-saving drugs and nothing else,” he added.

Later, Shibli Faraz lashed out at the opposition for criticising the government and said the opposition was only doing politics instead of helping the government in hours of need. He said if the National Accountability Bureau called Shahbaz Sharif in any case, it had nothing to do with the government. “If NAB summons Shahbaz Sharif he must go because NAB is a law enforcement institution,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2020

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