With a global pandemic overwhelming all countries with staggering amounts of infected people, governments are overseeing counter measures to prevent further contagion. As Pakistan observed an alarming increase in the amounts of patients, decisions were promptly made on national level, immediate action was taken and effective reinforcement was also practiced. For a deficit-laden, underdeveloped country whose financial capacity is too limited to bear the expenses of a medical crisis; Pakistan has thwarted this challenging situation competently.
Corona virus, biologically recognized as COVID-19, is a contagious respiratory disease. These viruses cause respiratory tract infections that might grow to be lethal. Its symptoms greatly resemble those of common cold and flu. Over 10,075 confirmed cases of the virus have been tested in Pakistan, according to the report by WHO released on 22nd April, 2020.
The disease expanded globally at a disconcertingly rapid rate in a period of merely two months, severely affecting 210 countries. Unfortunately, one of them happens to be Pakistan. The pandemic has forced a nation-wide lockdown that seems to have suffocated the already-crippled economy. The advent of this viral infection strangled the means of livelihood of numerous social sectors rendering them in impoverished and destitute conditions. With the Global Value Chain (GVC) disturbed, the exports of Pakistan have declined from $2 billion to $1.81 in March 2020. Private, industrial and commercial business segments experience hindrance in revenue reception resulting in salary-cuts and eventually job losses. The unemployment rate in Pakistan has inclined from 3.02 pc in 2019 to an alarming 6.2 pc this year. The pandemic has cost Pakistan a 2.4% GDP contraction and it will continue to shrivel if the dire situation is prolonged. The government seems to be confronting a conflicting choice between preventing a life threatening virus contagion and preventing the economy from tottering over the brink of collapse.
Furthermore, the government is making preparations to restore balance to the distraught economy, and also to provide financial aid to the desperate social segments of Pakistan. PM Imran Khan has declared his approval of an economic stimulus package with a magnitude of Rs.1.2 trillion. This program aims to recover the socio-economic damages by providing 10 million households with direct cash support. The Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) is also contributing to the recovery by donating to approximately 3 million people. The federal government is also assisting the citizens once they are verified through the local district administration setup. The State Bank of Pakistan has timely eased its policies such as providing refinancing facilities, relief measures and cutting down their rates. Numerous proposals are also being sent to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Executive Board.
Conclusively, the Pakistani government has strategically tackled these dire circumstances. All precautionary measures such as screening, surveillance, sanitization, quarantine, and gathering restrictions have been effectively reinforced to combat the growing pandemic situation. Not only did the mobilized action plan address the viral issue at hand but assisted the financially destitute as well.