Rehman Malik-led Senate body expresses concern over Coronavirus cases

Islamabad: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior in its emergency meeting called on Thursday expressed grave concerns over the confirmation of first two cases of Coronavirus in Pakistan, declared it as ‘National Security Hazzard’ and asked the government to devise Anti-Coronavirus National Action Plan to battle this deadly epidemic.

 At the start of the meeting Senator A. Rehman Malik said that he took suo-moto notice into the matter during the visit yesterday to Quetta after assessing

growing danger of Coronavirus in the country especially the entry of 7500 Pakistani prompted this action. The Committee discussed in detail the measures taken both by Ministry of Interior and National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination to curb the potential spread of the Coronavirus in Pakistan.

Senator A. Rehman Malik said that the breakout of coronavirus should be declared as national security threat and should be fought at war footings.

He added that according to WHO such diseases have been notified by UN as national security threats, hence, immediate measure should be adopted and he ordered opening of auditable accounts to raise public funds to fight this virus.

He took the notice of inadequate funds allocated for this virus and directed the government to enhance the funds forthwith. He directed the Chief Commissioner Islamabad to ensure action in place to secure the Capital free of this deadly virus.

In his opening remarks, Chairman Committee, Senator A. Rehman Malik lauded the services and sacrifices of Pakistan Armed Forces and said that the 27 February, is a day of pride, since on this day last year, Pakistan gave a befitting response to Indian aggression.

He highly appreciated the Bajwa Doctrine that has brought a durable peace in the country. He also welcomed President Donald Trump’s statement about Pakistan given in India and said that Pakistan has been at the forefront in the War on Terror and hoped that the US will support Pakistan in removing its name from FATF’s Grey list. 

The meeting was chaired by Senator A. Rehman Malik and was attended by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Senator Dr. Shehzad Wasim, Senator Muhammad Tahir Bezenjo and Senator Mir Kabir Muhammad Shahi. The meeting was also attended by Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Muhammad Azam Khan Swati, Chief Executive National Institute of Health Dr. Major General Aamir Ikram, Director General (Health) and senior officers from the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Additional Secretary Ministry of Interior, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Defence, D.G. NADRA, Additional Director General, FIA, National Institute of Health, along with all concerned.

The Committee was briefed by the Ministry of National Health Services and Regulation and Coordination on 30th January 2020 sensitized the Ministry about suspected patients of Noval Corona Virus on in-bound international flights. The Chairman Committee Senator A. Rehman Malik said that soon after the breakout of the Coronavirus in Pakistan, he decided of calling this emergency meeting to discuss the situation in detail. The Committee was informed that the World Bank and the USAID has allocated funds for this purpose.

The Chairman Committee tasked the Ministry of Interior to take all the measures for the safe return of Pakistan students stranded in different cities of China within 15 days in coordination with the Chinese government. He said that many stranded students have contacted him and their parents are continuously urging for safe return of their children.

The Chairman Committee thanked all weather friend China for its full cooperation and support to Pakistan at all the crucial times. It was also directed that

the flights returning from China and other afflicted countries must be diverted to specially designated airports to avoid further risk.

The Chairman Committee directed Chief Commissioner ICT that all possible measures must be taken to control the situation in the Federal Capital.  Since the identification of one person in Islamabad has put numerous lives at risk in the Capital.

The Chairman Committee, Senator A. Rehman Malik lauded the efforts of the Ministry and the Minister of State for National Health Services and Regulation and Coordination, Dr. Zafar Mirza.

He stated that the Parliament stands with the Government in this hour of national calamity. In the end Senator A. Rehman Malik read out the message from the Chairman Senate who in his message has appreciated the Senate Standing Committee on Interior for taking action well in time by calling emergency meeting on such an important issue. Ministry of Interior, Executive Director National Institute of Health, and all other concerned departments assured the Committee that all possible measures shall be taken to curb the spread of the virus in Pakistan.

The Chairman Committee, Senator Rehman Malik said that a joint meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Interior and National Health Services will be held in the next week for further deliberation on this highly important national hazard.  The Chairman Committee said that an in-camera briefing may be held in which all Chief Ministers, Chief Secretaries and Health Secretaries shall be invited to attend.