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‘Biggest worry now is people dying of hunger’: Pakistani PM calls for coronavirus relief package for developing world

‘Biggest worry now is people dying of hunger’: Pakistani PM calls for coronavirus relief package for developing world
Noting that Islamabad, as much of the developing world, is facing the dilemma of either losing people to hunger from lockdowns or letting the virus ravage the population, Pakistan’s Imran Khan has called for global relief fund.

Khan made an appeal to world leaders, global financial institutions and the UN secretary general “to ditch out a stimulus package for the developing world to help them through this economic downturn” on Sunday, as the number of Covid-19 cases in the country reached 5,230, with 91 fatalities.

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The PM highlighted the income gap between well-off developed countries that may inject a lump sum into their economies, under strain due to lockdowns, and the developing world which is effectively trapped between a rock and a hard place with its lack of resources.

While in the developed world the main dilemma is containing the coronavirus through lockdowns and then dealing with the economic impact... in the developing world, apart from containing the virus and dealing with the economic crisis, the biggest worry now is people dying of hunger

Pakistan, which is home to some 220 million people, was able to issue a relief package worth $8 billion, on condition that it can be further expanded when more resources are at hand. Khan drew a comparison between what Islamabad had to offer and the mammoth $2 trillion US coronavirus relief bill, as well as equally generous relief plans by European powerhouse Germany, and Japan.

Pakistan, on the other hand, is facing an impossible choice between “starvation from lockdown or the coronavirus,” Khan said. Arguing that the world is heading into a “recession worse than the Great Depression,” the PM said that the spread of the virus on a global scale won’t be stopped without “a strong, coordinated and well-crafted global response.”

The coronavirus outbreak in Pakistan has moved quickly since it was first detected in Quetta, located in the southwestern province of Balochistan, last month. The country has faced shortages of protective equipment and masks. The lack of gear sparked clashes between doctors and police in Quetta last week that led to dozens of medical professionals being arrested.

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In addition to calling on the international community to chip in, Pakistan also requested assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is set to consider an extra loan of $1.4 billion to Pakistan on April 16.

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