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Fact-Check: PM Imran Khan’s Latest Speech On Coronavirus Was Misleading At Best

Imran Khan smart lockdown
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Here are some facts about the claims Prime Minister Imran Khan made in his address to the nation on Monday.

1. “I was always against the lockdown.”

His own government and the National Co-ordination Committee (NCC) announced the lockdown. The DG ISPR held a Press Conference on March 23rd.

2. “The type of lockdown I wanted did not happen in Pakistan because the 18th amendment exists.”

PTI is in power in Punjab, Kyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and has a coalition government in Balochistan. It is also in power in the center. No Pakistani government in recent memory has enjoyed such majority with a weak opposition and state support.

3. “The kind of lockdown that happened hurt the poor.”

Pakistan had the option to impose a strict lockdown for a month to enhance its medical capacities, trace cases and beef up testing but instead we never really had a lockdown, nobody followed SOPs. The government was consistently anti-lockdown and gave in to the demands of power lobbies and the religious right.

If everybody had agreed to the enforcement of a strict lockdown, we would have reopened by now in a safe way rather than reopening golf clubs and marriage halls as hundreds of people die each week.

Essentially the strategy is to blame all the ill effects of the lockdown onto other political parties – not sure how the people of Punjab, Balochistan and KP will believe what happened to them is PPP’s fault.

4. “We closed big congregations”

The Raiwind Ijtema happened, Taraveeh prayers were allowed and Eid congregations also took place last week.

5. “I would not have stopped the construction industry.”

The reopening of the construction industry has been led by some of the most elite and powerful industrialists in the country. It is not a pro-poor strategy.

6. “Even America..”

The least we try to emulate America at this point, the better. Trump has bundled up the coronavirus response even worse than Pakistan.

7. “Rich countries are also opening up.”

Yes because they used the time to ensure they can safely reopen. New Zealand now has 0 cases of the coronavirus. Nepal, South Korea and Vietnam have done a great job too. China has massive precautions in place to safely reopen. We did absolutely nothing.

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All the countries that reopened did so after flattening the curve, our curve is steeper than it has ever been.

8. “The virus will spread.”

The government is not stating it over fears of rebuke but they are most definitely going for the herd immunity strategy – you do not even have herd immunity in Wuhan, the place it all started. There is no evidence yet that herd immunity will work.

Essentially the strategy is to let people get infected, have a few lakh of them die and hope the rest develop antibodies to protect everyone against it. In theory, this happens over months.

Essentially if a group is faced with a lion, herd immunity suggests everyone just stand still and let the lion eat enough people till it tires out and dies.

I don’t think I have to explain how disproportionately this will effect the poor. They are the ones who will go out and die – they are the ones who need to be protected the most.

9. “The responsibility is of the people.”

The government’s inaction, confused messaging and telling people it is just the flu killed people. We see hospitals being attacked daily because the government makes them think Corona is no big deal.

Putting the responsibility on to the people to choose between death from Corona and starvation is quite spineless of the government.

10. “We are a poor nation”

The total subsidy given to sugar traders over the past 5 years, including Jehangir Tareen, is Rs 29 Billion, including 3 billion last year.

Last two years the government has given PIA a bailout of Rs 30 billion.

Just have to look at the budget to see how underbudgeted Education and Heatlh are – they have never been our priority.

11. “We will follow SOPs”

Every Pakistani knows what a joke the SOPs have been.

I am sure the most popular comments here will be asking me if we can be in a lock down forever – obviously not but your party loyalty should not blind you to how the confused messaging on lock down and corona has led to so many deaths. There needs to be some accountability.

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You can also reopen the economy and explain to people how serious the threat is, we are in June and the Prime Minister is still insisting only people over 65+ are in danger. Just google how many young people have died.

Unfortunately, not much has changed despite having a record number of cases and deaths each day. The last briefing by the Prime Minister was on May 7th – we do not even get an explanation on why the leader of the nation was missing for the last month.

Imran Khan’s spokesperson only said the pictures we saw of Imran Khan in Nathia Gali were fake and then said he cannot confirm or deny whether Imran Khan was in Nathia Gali or not.

Nobody can deny the impact Covid-19 has had on the economy but the government has to be blamed for their inaction. If the messaging on lockdown was not always this confusing, if for once all of us had come together to fight this disease, we would have been managed to overcome the worst.

Watching the numbers rise daily and then watching the Prime Minister say the same thing he said a month ago shows either he is not looking at the data or listening to certain power lobbies rather than the experts. The previous post on this page shows you how his own Health Department in Punjab indicates ther are 6,70,800 affectees just in Lahore.

Everybody I know knows one person who is either sick or has a loved one die from coronavirus. Moreover, instead of actually talking about how terrible decisions by the government killed these people, we are back to talking about how doctors are in a Jihad and they are all Shaheed.

Also did I miss it or did he not mention the PIA crash at all?

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