550 million raised during Imran Khan telethon transmission
24 Apr 2020
ISLAMABAD: Around Rs 550 million were raised during the three-and-a-half-hour-long transmission which marked live calls from the top businessmen, corporate heads, renowned sportsmen, overseas Pakistanis, artists and philanthropists, and responded by the prime minister.
Following the telethon, the total deposits in the PM Relief Fund for Covid 19 touched Rs 2.76 billion as further donations continued to pour in the advertised account number.
Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said the government is moving to ‘smart lockdown‘ to close areas with coronavirus outbreak because he fears that people can die of starvation amidst strict closures aimed for their protection against the pandemic.
Advising utmost precautions for protection against coronavirus, the prime minister asked the countrymen to act responsibly in the prevailing challenging situation as no government can overcome the pandemic alone. “The government has not that much capacity to handle the situation alone rather the whole nation will have to take the responsibility. While going to the mosque, you must understand that it involves risk to your life and for others too,” the prime minister said while addressing the Ehsaas Telethon jointly hosted by multiple television channels and online platforms for fund raising to support the people hard-hit by the lockdown owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hosted by Senator Faisal Javed, the transmission was joined by news anchors representing partnering media groups including Hamid Mir (Geo), Kashif Abbasi (ARY News), Nadeem Malik (Samaa News), Kamran Shahid (Dunya News), Sami Ibrahim (Bol News), Shiffa Yousfzai (Hum News), Muniba Mazari (PTV News), Mansoor Khan (Express News) and Mohammad Malick (92 News).
The prime minister, who also responded queries from the news anchors, said the coronavirus is a challenge to test any nation’s capability to stand up to it and hoped that Pakistan will rise as a greater nation after sailing through the ordeal. He said the economic impact of the pandemic will increase in future as the people will exhaust their savings and need support. In such a scenario, the nation will have to face the situation collectively, he added.
He advised the people not to fall prey to any misunderstanding or notions of stronger immunity among the Pakistanis against the virus rather take all the precautions advised by the doctors. He said before launching the fund-raising, the government has completed its financial controls to ensure the donated money is spent transparently. He said the government has already started reopening some industries and the donations will help support the people until they resume their earnings. Realizing the sufferings of the poor class, the government decided to open the construction industry which will also revive all allied industries.
He said the great economies like the United States are afraid of possible economic breakdown as is evident from his Wednesday’s telephonic interaction with US President Donald Trump whom he called mainly to thank him for supporting his global call for debt relief to the developing countries to enable them utilize their resources on anti-Covid operations. The prime minister said he is too much concerned about the future of the small businesses for what the government will soon announce a relief package.
To a question, the prime minister reiterated his stance that there can be no lockdown or even social distancing in the slums like Machhar Colony or Liyari areas of Karachi where multiple family members share a single room and also lack clean water. He said while making any decision to impose full lockdown, the provincial governments must also think of such people, and not only the elite class.
The prime minister said perceiving the nation’s mindset of preferring to pray at mosques, particularly during the holy month of Ramazan, the government agreed upon 20-point guidelines with the religious scholars who now owe the responsibility to ensure its true implementation. However, he advised the people to prefer praying at home during the holy month as other Muslim countries have not allowed prayer congregations.
He agreed that the reopening of the businesses will increase the risk for coronavirus transmission, but the government will adopt track and trace method to contain the diseases.
He said the government is expecting the coronavirus cases to reach around 15,000 by next week and the second half of May could be difficult when the hospitals can face much pressure.
The prime minister said so far, it is the poor class that is bearing the brunt of the situation and the affluent class should come forward to give out to the country in need of the hour. He said the government is alive to the difficulties being faced by the overseas Pakistanis and deliberating a strategy for their repatriation which is linked with sufficient quarantine facilities.
The transmission concluded with the special prayer by Maulana Taiq Jameel, who also advised the people to recite the supplications like Ayat-e-Kareema to seek Allah Almighty’s forgiveness and blessings in the distressing situation.
To a question, the prime minister assured the donors that their donations will be spent transparently as the government has established a complete database of the needy people and has also de-listed around 0.8 million non-entitled ones. He said all the government agencies, including the Federal Investigation Agency, police and Inter-Services Intelligence, are engaged under the Ehsaas Progamme to detect and apprehend any corrupt elements. The main chunk of the cash scheme went to opposition-led Sindh province which is ample to manifest its apolitical execution, he added.