Indus Hospital head seconds their demand, warns of COVID-19 devastation
Pakistan’s trade bodies have been asking the government to allow them to resume work. They have held meetings with the chief ministers and assured that shopkeepers will follow the issued SOPs to curb the coronavirus spread.
But Sindh Tajir Ittehad Chairman Jameel Paracha has expressed frustration with the lack of government support.
The businessman was asked on SAMAA TV’s programme News Beat on Friday night why he is so adamant on reopening markets, to which Paracha pointed out that traders rely on daily sales which have come to a stop for over a month.
“[The government] has no idea how much small-scale businessmen are suffering. How will labourers be paid if the trader himself is not receiving a single rupee?” he asked.
Paracha had an answer to the deadlock. He said, considering the novel coronavirus’ repercussions in the country so far, traders in Sindh will remain at home if the government provides soft loans.
Anchor Ehtisham Amiruddin said that the Centre and Sindh government had announced that they were mulling on giving loans to businessmen, but Paracha said the loans the governments are offering include interest.
“We want loans without interest. God forbid, we don’t want to wage a war against Almighty Allah and His Holy Prophet (pbuh),” the Tajir Ittehad chairman said.
Situation demands out of the box moves
Indus Hospital CEO Dr Abdul Bari, who has been calling for a stricter and complete lockdown since COVID-19 hit Pakistan, agreed with Paracha’s request.
The doctor said the demand was just and something the federal government needs to ensure so that small traders can feed their families.
He added that extraordinary times like these demand the governments to make decisions that are out of the box.
No second option for traders
“Bhook aur iflas is sheher ka muqaddar banjaega (Hunger and poverty will surround Karachi),” Paracha said when asked what the alternative is if the government denies these soft loans.
The trade body chairman was adamant that interest-free loans were the only way out.
Paracha claimed Karachi was “paying the price” for bringing the PTI into power. “There are around 20 MPAs and 14 MNAs of the PTI from Karachi, tell me what have they done to resolve issues so far?” he asked.
He said an appeal to Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa is the last resort, complaining that the Sindh government and Centre are beating around the bush.
COVID-19 spread imminent, but speed can be slowed
In an address to nation last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the coronavirus’ further spread is unavoidable. Dr Bari said that might be the case, but it is still in our hands to cripple or slow the effect.
“If the spread is gradual, our medical facilities would be able to deal with the patients, said Dr Bari. “However, our healthcare system is fragile and would collapse if the novel virus infects a large chunk of the population.”
So far, nearly 12,000 people in Pakistan have contracted COVID-19 and 245 people have died.
The number of confirmed cases is projected to peak at the end of May.