ISLAMABAD: Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed hosted an all parties webinar on “Confronting Coronavirus and Pakistan-China relations’ to discuss the measures taken to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two-hour-long conference was participated by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Senator Azam Khan Swati, Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla, Senator Usman Kakar, Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar, Senator Talha Mehmood, Senator Sitara Ayaz and Senator Mushtaq Ahmed (JI).
The participants were also given a presentation by the Executive Director Pakistan-China Institute, Mustafa Hyder Sayed giving details about the assistance provided by Pakistan to China to each other during this crisis.
The fact sheet also mentioned the airlift from China to Pakistan beginning March 25, which included 2 million face masks, 70,000 medical protective equipment, 100,000 testing kits, 217 ventilators plus a $4 million emergency medical grant to build a special hospital for coronavirus patients.
In his opening remarks, the host, Senator Mushahid Hussain said that the coronavirus crisis had strengthened the Pakistan-China Friendship and solidarity because like other previous crises China again had stood by Pakistan firmly.
Talking about the impact of the crises of global order he said that Asian countries like China, South Korea and Singapore have shown quality leadership as well as the efficiency of their medical and healthcare system as opposed to Western countries.
He also demanded that the government should also announce the National Health Emergency to cope with the crisis so that all resources and institutions are utilized for this one-point agenda.
Senator Azam Swati talked of two major challenges in the present situation namely, hunger and coronavirus and said that “prevention is the cure” for coronavirus.
Senator Saleem Mandviwalla referred to the fact that at his own initiative 2000 testing kits were imported early on. He hoped that big business groups from the private sector would come forward to play their role.
Senator Sitara Ayaz underlined the need for creating more awareness about the coronavirus since this was lacking. She said the situation in provinces was ‘pretty bad’ and there was need to ensure food supplies for the needy and the poor.
Senator Usman Kakar paid tribute to Dr Osama, the first casualty of coronavirus, the doctor of Gilgit Baltistan who died in the line of duty. He said Balochistan, where a large number of people were living below the poverty line should be given priority. He also appreciated the role of Chief Minister Sindh in tackling the crisis.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said that the biggest need of the hour was to prepare a National Action Plan which should have a collective, coordinated and comprehensive response. He said that there is only one testing lab in the entire province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which has the capacity to only conduct 700 tests per day.
Senator Talha Mehmood appreciated China for taking good care of Pakistani nationals.
Senator Anwar ul Haq Kakar said that we are lucky that clusters like the pilgrims from Iran and Tableegi Jamat have been identified which can then be tested and he also urged the need to test people who entered Pakistan after December 31, 2020.
At the conclusion of the webinar, the political parties adopted a ‘joint open letter from political parties concerning closer international cooperation against COVID-19’, where they appreciated the role of China in “significant progress in epidemic prevention”.
They urged the ‘general public to comply with epidemic prevention as well as “fully leverage the strength of civil society organizations and volunteers” to combat the epidemic.