Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that we need to work together to deal with natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and coronavirus. All institutions including media, judiciary, scholars, doctors, nurses, the paramedical staff played a vital role during the COVID.
He was addressing online in the inaugural session of the two-day national conference on ‘Challenges of Governance in Pakistan Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic’ organized by Punjab University’s Department of Political Science.
Ambassador of China to Pakistan Nong Rong also attended the session online, while PU Vice Chancellor Prof Niaz Ahmad Akhtar, former caretaker Chief Minister Punjab Prof Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi, Founding Director Center for Public Policy and Governance F.C College Lahore Dr . Saeed Shafqat, Dean Faculty Behavioral and Social Sciences Prof Dr. Umbreen Javed, Chairperson Department of Political Science Prof Dr. Iram Khalid, researchers, senior faculty members and a large number of students participated in the conference.
Planning Minister and NCOC Head Asad Umar said that during COVID-19, the government of Pakistan also faced the twin challenges of saving the economy along with the health of the people, due to which the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) and National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) were set up to combat and convey the truth to the people.
He said that the government and the military leadership together in the NCOC made the best decisions in the national interest. He said that the NCOC decided on lockdown, hotspot lockdown and smart lockdown based on daily data so that people’s health and economic condition could be improved. He said that the process of vaccination had started and the same laws were applied to all keeping aside the difference between the rich and the poor and even the President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan vaccinated themselves in their own respective turns.
Asad Umar said that keeping in view the lack of resources and poor health facilities to deal with the epidemic, the government has increased the facilities at hospitals. He said that the use of technology through various applications has made it easier to calculate the number of patients in hospitals, and has ensured availability of oxygen, assessment of the condition of beds, and medical facilities. He said that China supported Pakistan in a difficult time.
He said that through artificial intelligence, the government was formulating a strategy for the future so that an effective and integrated strategy could be formulated to tackle challenges like a corona. He appreciated the efforts of the organizers in organizing a meaningful event.
Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong said that since the onset of the corona epidemic, the Chinese government has mobilized its people under the best possible strategy and provided awareness to meet this challenge. He said that scientific research and medical training were promoted on a priority basis. He said that to curb the spread of corona an effective smart lockdown was implemented across the country. He said that the Chinese government, realizing its global responsibilities, had supplied 450 million doses of vaccines to various countries and provided other medical supplies in large quantities.
The Chinese envoy said that long-standing friendly relations with Pakistan were further enhanced during the epidemic. He thanked the Government of Pakistan for sending medical supplies to China at the beginning of the corona. He said that the Chinese government has so far provided 3.25 million vaccines and other medical devices to Pakistan. Nong Rong praised the successful strategy of the Pakistani government and the NCOC against corona, saying that effective planning in Pakistan not only prevented the spread of the pandemic but also maintained its socio-economic stability.
PU VC Prof Niaz Ahmed said that the steps taken by the government to curb the spread of corona and to improve the economy are commendable. He said that during the pandemic situation when all the universities were closed, Punjab University played its lead role and arranged online classes and examinations so that the education of the students would not be hampered. He said that students were allowed to take physical and online exams and fees were reduced appropriately.
He said that PU did not fire any of its employees and even the salaries and other benefits were also paid on time. He said that after taking over the post of Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University, with just three years of hard work, Punjab University’s world ranking has improved by 16%, Asian ranking by 54% and for the first time in the history of Punjab University, 13 faculties have been ranked.
He said that various departments of PU have taken steps for the upgrading, welfare, and psychology of the people. He said that our media team has done a great job in making the people aware of the excellent performance and the role of Punjab University during the pandemic. He appreciated the efforts of Dr. Umbreen Javed, Dr. Iram and his team for organizing such a conference.
Dr Hassan Askari said that last year was a year of immense learning in human history. He said that such challenges may be faced in the future for which permanent planning is required. He said that to prevent the spread of corona, the government took several steps, including enforcing the same law everywhere in the lockdown, for which the NCOC, led by Asad Umer, made the best decisions.
He said that in view of the deteriorating economic condition of the people, the government helped them through the Ehsas cash program, reduced interest rates on loans, and also played a vital role in meeting the living needs of the people. He said that during the corona epidemic, the state and society realized that mutual help was needed to deal with such a situation.
Dr Saeed said that the issue of governance during the pandemic was faced globally. He said that corona has had economic, political, social, and cultural implications. He said that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan would be effective for Pakistan and Tajikistan. He said that the future of education and health development depends on technology. He said that new sources of employment for online businesses were created during the corona epidemic in Pakistan. Dr. Umbreen Javed and Dr Iram also addressed the moot.