Pakistan responded to pandemic wisely in terms of health & economy: Shibli Faraz
ISLAMABAD : – Senator Shibli
Faraz, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, has said that
despite the adverse impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government
under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan has made it possible
to rank Pakistan among those who have responded to the pandemic wisely
and successfully while looking at the health and livelihood of the
people and economy of the country as a top priority.
He was speaking at the concluding plenary of 23rd Sustainable
Development Conference held by Sustainable Development Policy Institute
here on Thursday.
Quoting the words of Charles Dickens that “It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,” the minister said, the time of COVID-19 is a
very challenging time not only for Pakistan but for the whole world,
but the actual challenge is to convince people to follow SOPs
Special programmes have been launched to provide jobs to the labour
and daily wagers during this tough time to let them meet their
livelihood, he said.
Malik Amin Aslam, the PM‘s Advisor on Climate Change, stressed the
need to rebalance our act with nature else the nature will react in the
way it reacted in the form of COVID. All the tension and damage pandemic
has caused, he said, a very positive thing about Pakistan is that our
economy is the least contracted in the world. Moreover, our country is
saved in all the three dimensions including health, economy, and food
Looking into the overall situation of Pakistan through this
conference, our country is still doing much better than many other
European countries. There is still the need to make effective policies
and improve the previous one by looking into the post COIVD world needs.
SDPI Board of Governors chairperson Shafqat Kakakhel, in his welcome
address, thanked the minister, development partners and audience to
participate in the conference.
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri presented
recommendations of the conference and urged the minister to consider
them in policy making.
SDPI Joint Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed presented vote of thanks
and appreciated the team SDPI for organizing such a big virtual
Speaking at a session titled:The Role of Science and Technology in
the Times of COVID-19, Ch Fawad Hussain, Federal Minister for Science
and Technology, said that the government has three top priorities, i. e.
agriculture, electronics and manufacturing of electric vehicles. He
added that the emergence of technology has affected all the areas of
traditional economy. This is fourth generation industrial revolution,
where ideas have taken over labour and capital, the minister said,
adding that advanced countries kept parallel both the civil and defense
engineering advancement. He was of the view that investment-based health
sector should be promoted and private partners should be encouraged to
invest as it has huge potential. The minister further said that he has
been a great advocate of privatization and wants that government should
limit itself only to regulation. In response to a question related to
interdepartmental coordination and consensus on these areas, the
ministers said the prime minister has clustered all the ministries
concerned to align their work for smooth working. He said that we must
promote local partnerships, especially in manufacturing solar panels and
batteries with China. To a question about synchronizing academia with
industries, the minister said, at least 40 universities have been tasked
to adopt schools for Stem Education.
Speaking at a session titled:COVID-19 related Evidence in
Policymaking: Perspective from Development Partners, Ms Wendy Gilmour,
Canadian High Commissioner in Islamabad, said the donor community
intervention should be evidence based despite the fact that data
collection itself is a challenging job. She also launched the National
Population Analysis, which highlighted the inequalities existing in the
system. We need the baseline data in decision-making, she said, adding
that support will be provided to Pakistan and developmental partners.
CSOs are challenged by the registration process and they face a lot in
collecting data, she said.
Richard Ough from FCDO said COVID-19 has led to global implications,
especially in Pakistan. The evolution during the pandemic has to led to
new evidence, which is the new normal. He said many businesses were
closed during the pandemic, 54% companies used digitization, 20%
invested on digital platforms.
Michael Nehrbass from USAID, Pakistan said the world businesses are
going to close, and children are out of school. He said USAID is helping
private sector in developing digital business. Umer Akhlaq Malik from
UNDP said the readily available data is not easily accessible.
Unfortunately, to address the socioeconomic response plan, we don’t have
national data collection plan. He stressed the need for quick
transformation for data collection.
Speaking at a session titled:Access to water and sanitation in a
post-COVID Pakistan, Kanwal Shauzab, Parliamentary Secretary Planning
Development & Special Initiatives, highlighted the worsening state
of water and sanitation in urban and rural areas and stressed the need
to address water shortage during the pandemic when handwashing has
become such necessity.
Niaz Ahmed from WaterAid, Islamabad said that only 7% of wastewater
is treated while rest is discharged to safe water without treatment.
This has grave consequences for the environment and the water supplies.
Highlighting the need to improve coordination between institutions
working in this domain, he said the role of civil society in
facilitating governmental initiatives is very crucial in meeting the
requirements of SDG-6.
Mr Basharat Saeed, Water Resources Specialist, World Bank, Islamabad,
highlighted the fact that a significant percentage of Pakistani youth
is stunted. Hence a holistic approach was required in terms of
addressing the long-neglected issue of water and sanitation.
The session on‘State of Social Protection in Pakistan: Need,
Coverage, Legislative Status, Challenges and Way Forward’was moderated
by Dr Safdar Sohail, Executive Director SPRC. Mr. Mutee ul Rehman,
Senior Specialist, SPRC, launched the special protection report that
ranked districts combining the measurements of social assistance, social
insurance & social security. Dr. Aliya Hashmi Khan discussed
different definitions of Social Protection discussed in the report and
emphasized to focus on one concept of social protection.Dr. Stephen Kidd
evaluated the Ongoing Social Protection Policies and Programmes in the
Context of SDG 1.3 and also gave appreciating comments on the launch of
the SPRC report.
Dr. Jomo Kwame Sundaram concluded the session by elaborating social
policy for developing countries for future. He emphasized that
structural reforms are a must for every state but what kind of
structural reforms are to be introduced is the question.
Speaking at a session titled:A New Outlook and Emerging Needs of
Education Systems for Addressing Impacts and Challenges of Coronavirus
Era,Dr M. Irfan Khan from IIUI said that online education is much
important but students are not taking it as serious as it should be.
Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja from SDPI said education is a fundamental human
right. Online education seems the only option to keep life safe &
alive as well as ignorance away, but since its adaption in early 2020,
has been confronted with many multi-faceted challenges for all
stakeholders at all education levels from lowest to the highest
Dr Mazhar Iqbal Zafar from QAU, Islamabad said that people who are in
remote areas lack such facilities like internet so their loss should
also be considered.
Speaking at a session onGender-based violence and Pakistani
transgender community in COVID-19 pandemic, Huma Chughtai from Federal
Judicial Academy addressed the problems faced by transgenders in our
society. They are being neglected at every level and their rights are
always violated even in the presence of laws. She stressed the need to
involve media in changing the mindset of the society, to reduce
Aisha Mughal said that the culprits are not punished due to flaws in
our legal system. She said transgenders have suffered a lot and no
financial support is given to them by the government.
Khadija Ali said that we need to adopt an attitude of critique to
avoid loopholes in our legal system which is patriarchal and needs to be
gender responsive. She said both females and transgenders face
harassment and law does not benefit them due to its weak implementation.