ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel on Thursday asked the government to convene a Saarc conference to formulate a joint strategy to effectively combat coronavirus.
The Senate Standing Committee on Interior unanimously passed a resolution urging the government to call a Saarc meeting to evolve a joint anti-coronavirus strategy for a unified regional response to the pandemic.
The Senate panel expressed deep concern over the rapidly growing number of coronavirus patients and deaths caused by the deadly virus.
The committee asked the government to come up with a clear policy on the lockdown and noted that there appeared to be a state of confusion on the issue.
Chairman of the committee Rehman Malik objected to the much-publicised slogan of “no need to be scared of corona” and said the slogan was sending out a wrong message and needed to be immediately amended.
He said the people were not taking coronavirus seriously due to the wrongly phrased slogan.
He said the people were not following the SOPs to prevent the spread of the deadly disease and because of this positive cases and deaths were rapidly increasing. He said the country would face a massive increase in positive cases of Covid-19 and deaths if the government did not implement the SOPs by force of law.
He stressed the need for spreading awareness among the masses about the pandemic in all local languages.
The interior secretary briefed the committee on implementation of 37-point recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior and said these served as a compact guideline for the government to combat coronavirus in the country.
Executive Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Major General Aamer Ikram briefed the committee on the measures taken to combat coronavirus. Briefing the committee on the Covid-19 situation in the country, he said that the fatality rate was 2.6 per cent and currently there were 16 centres operating in the country.
Mr Malik said that the government must take steps for increasing the testing capacity for coronavirus as senators from Balochistan complained that testing facility was not available for people in some parts of Balochistan.
The chairman of the committee said that he would personally request the Chinese government to assist Pakistan in this effort and provide testing kits to the country
He also asked the government that it must not ignore patients of coronavirus in rural areas of the country and mobile laboratories should be deployed in those areas to test maximum number of suspected cases.
The committee condemned the continued ceasefire violations by Indian security forces along the Line of Control, targeting civilian population, sending spy drones and killing 35 Kashmiri youth in occupied Kashmir.
Federal Minister for Narcotics Control Azam Khan Swati applauded efforts of Senator Rehman Malik for getting removed the name of Pakistan from FATF’s grey list. He said that because of his tireless efforts, Pakistan had received a relief of five months from the FATF in the most difficult time of pandemic.
The committee discussed in detail various bills presented for review.
The Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Interior presented their views on the proposed legislation.
The committee, after a detailed deliberation, passed the Islamabad Prevention of Beggary Bill, 2020, the Islamabad Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation Bill, 2020.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2020