The News International
Published Date: May 14, 2020
Govt closely monitoring COVID-19 situation
Islamabad : Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz has said that the government is not only closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation but is also trying to respond it through national policies and collective efforts which is the only way to combat the challenge.
“The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) evaluates the spread of pandemic on daily basis and responds the situation by the measures and decisions taken after reaching at a consensus by all the federating units,” he told an online policy dialogue on ‘COVID-19, Government Responses and Role of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’ organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday.
The minister said despite the resources constraint, the federal government, following the vision of the Prime Minister, had taken several initiatives to support business and industry.
“This includes the deferred payment of the utility bills, especially by the low-income groups through the cash grants and subsided food items at utility stores.”
He said the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had taken up the task to ensure the provision of personal protection equipment (PPE), for doctors especially for those, who were the frontline fighters against the pandemic besides other medical supplies across Pakistan.
“Neither the Federal government nor the provinces could tackle this unprecedented challenge alone,” the minister said, adding that unnecessary controversy should be avoided after every one reach at a consensus on the strategy to overcome the pandemic.
He said the Federal Government has to tread on a tight rope while taking measures to stop the spread of the disease and save the economy from a total collapse.
The minister said that Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is fully aware of the importance of its role in mass sensitization and awareness-raising on social distancing and other preventive measures, so the Ministry and all of its associated organs are playing vital role by sharing timely information and public service messages.
He, however, said collaboration with think tanks such as SDPI could strengthen the much-needed research and effective outreach to diverse the target audience.
Appreciating the role of SDPI, the minister said that think tanks like SDPI can help curb disinformation through their evidence-based knowledge generation.
Shibli Faraz said due to Pakistan’s particular socio-economic and religious context, a strict lockdown had not been deemed as the right option.
He said the government had finalised at a 20-point SOPs package with religious scholars, and people are expected to take precautions and social distancing.
“This cooperation would be a key for the success of the smart lockdown otherwise the government would have to opt for the strict lockdown, if situation gets worsen,” he said.
He said the Ministry of Information is taking several measures to build the capacity of the national insinuations, including PTV and Radio Pakistan to enable them strengthen our national narrative at global level.
The minister said efforts were also being made to release the payment of media organizations before Eidul Fitr, but the benefit should also go to journalists and their salaries should be released accordingly.
Executive Director of the SDPI Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri earlier highlighted the importance of the flow of the right information, especially during the crisis situation such as the situation posed by COVID-19.
He said it’s important for masses and other stakeholders to remain updated on the decisions such as how should a balance be created between saving the lives from the pandemic and protecting the livelihood means of people while enforcing or relaxing lockdown.
“The collaborated effort to fill the gap regarding the right and credible information could have a crucial role to impart the awareness and education to the stakeholders, especially in the wake of COVID-19. Our diverse outreach and engagement helps us in channelizing the public voices to the policy makers,” he said.