ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday will decide which businesses and sectors will be reopened from this weekend after the provinces opposed running of buses, trains and domestic flights but largely agreed to reopen commercial centres if the Centre gives a final approval for easing lockdown curbs.
The premier will chair a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Thursday (today) in which a final decision will be taken about reopening of more businesses and sectors after the expiry of the extended lockdown on May 9.
The views were exchanged at the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) meeting held on Wednesday.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, who chaired the NCOC meeting, said different ways and means of easing lockdown were discussed at the meeting. He said a day earlier the federal cabinet had approved a plan to further ease lockdown curbs.
Sindh minister says all provinces opposed resumption of inter-provincial, inter-city transport, trains and domestic flights in NCOC meeting
However, he added, a final decision would be taken at the NCC meeting.
A source after attending the NCOC meeting said the SOPs prepared by the federal government and sent to the provinces for consideration were discussed. Almost all the provinces opposed the proposal of the federal government to resume local fights, trains and public transport.
While the Centre’s SOPs also permit shops to remain open from morning till 4pm and then from 8 pm till 12midnight, the Sindh government suggested to the Centre that shops be allowed to open till 5pm and not till midnight.
When contacted, Sindh minister Saeed Ghani told Dawn that all provinces had opposed resumption of inter-provincial and inter-city transport, trains and domestic flights until Covid-19 was completely eliminated.
“Provinces feared that opening of transport will cause transfer of coronavirus from one area to another,” he explained.
Mr Ghani confirmed that Sindh had opposed the SOP that allowed shops to stay open from morning till 4pm and then from 8 pm till 12midnight. “We asked in the meeting that we will allow shops to open till 5pm,” he said.
However, the PPP leader made it clear that the Sindh government wanted that whatever decision was to be taken by the NCC regarding lockdown should be unanimous and implemented uniformly in all the provinces.
“We want unanimous decision regarding opening of more businesses across the country. We do not want implementation of different SOPs in each provinces,” he said.
The Punjab government had no objection to the SOPs of the Centre, but it opposed plying of transport buses at this stage.
KP makes its own SOPs
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shaukat Yousufzai told Dawn that the provincial government had made its own SOPs in consultation with all stakeholders so as how to further ease lockdown restrictions.
The KP government had already done all the spadework to reopen more businesses once Prime Minister Imran Khan would give a green signal in this regard, he said.
He elaborated the KP government wanted that shops of different items were opened on different days. “For example, the first three days of a week shops of garment, clothes and shoes will be opened till 4pm and shops of others goods like jewellery, furniture and others will stay open in next four days of week.
He said the traders’ community of the KP had agreed to follow the SOPs and assured the provincial government of their implementation.
Relief work in AJK, GB
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister praised welfare organisations and philanthropists for providing relief to the needy who were badly hit by the lockdown in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Mr Khan said the Pakistanis had always helped their countrymen with full devotion and enthusiasm. The relief activities in AJK and GB in these difficult times was very encouraging, he added.
He expressed these view while talking to Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur, who called on him here at the PM Office.
The minister was accompanied by Kashmir Orphan Relief Trust (KORT) Chairman Chaudhry Mohammad Akhtar, Rupani Foundation Consultant Sabauddin and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader from Bostan (the United States) Atif Khan.
The KORT chairman told the PM that the trust had provided ration to 20,000 families and would continue to distribute food among other families.
The Rupani Foundation said it was providing relief to 20,000 families in GB, and it was further increasing its circle of activities.
The PTI leader from Boston informed the prime minister about donations for the PM’s Corona Relief Fund and other activities being carried out by the Pakistani community in the US.
Mr Gandapur earlier briefed the premier about various relief activities being carried out in AJK and GB.
Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2020