ISLAMABAD, Thursday, April 2, 2020 (WNP): COVID-19 caught us all by surprise from the very beginning, but China, under the strong leadership of Communist Party and Chinese government put the lives of its people first, ensuring confidence, unity, and struggle, however now the life is returning to normalcy, said Ms Pang Chunxue, the Chinese Deputy Chief of Mission in Pakistan.
She was speaking at an online policy dialogue titled “Combating COVID-19: Learnings from China” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Thursday.
Sharing her experiences of last three months, she said, “We have made some swift actions regarding total lockdown of Hubei province, made useful preventive and control measures by persuading people to stay at home and making them socially distant and provided people with daily essentials to ensure their co-operation so that they could stay at home comfortably.
Ms Pang Chunxue emphasized that China has paid good attention to the importance of think tanks, their input is very important to governments and the general population.
Furthermore, she specified that CPEC is now in a new stage and that this new stage focuses on the cooperation of China and Pakistan to develop socioeconomic infrastructure, education sector, agriculture sector and also the SDGs.
Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri Executive Director SDPI said our approach in fighting this disease is urban-centric; urban dwellers have some sort of health care, but in small towns and villages health care is non-existent.
“We need to focus on villages, similarly bilateral or multilateral institutions should discuss specific districts or advise them how to cope up the situation. Yesterday, he said, Pakistan had the highest number of cases confirmed in a day however we should also be mindful of the fact that there will be a third wave after the lockdown. “This wave will be generated by the exodus of daily wagers that are now returning to their villages.”
He said April 15 is the date for wheat harvest and if this spreads to rural areas, we should expect wheat scarcity.
Speaking on the occasion Mr. Haroon Sharif Economist, Former Minister of State for Investment stressed the need to focus on future partnerships on human development, that will lead to social and economic prosperity in the region. So far there is some social development under CPEC but not to the extent that is needed, he added.
Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director, SDPI, said it is important for the relevant ministries in Islamabad to engage more closely with the foreign missions and embassies and seek guidance for improving Pakistan’s response to COVID-19.
“Countries like China, S. Korea and Japan who were among the first to experience the incidence of Coronavirus can now explain regarding various systematic approaches to lockdown and what are the options in the coming days for a gradual relaxation in lockdown at least for some essential industries such as food and health sector.”
He said COVID-19 has paved way for an economic recession, hence evidence from other countries will be useful with regard to how they are designing their people-centric fiscal and monetary policies.
The challenge to quickly process and disburse cash and in-kind transfers, support to returning Pakistani workers, and fiscal stimulus package for private enterprises, are also some areas where Pakistan’s government needs advice, he said.
Mr Shakeel Ahmed Ramay, Director China Study Centre, SDPI, said the institutional mechanism of China is very important to study, how policy and decision making there is being done. “We need some mechanism if we want the desirable results replicated from China.
He added that there is a change to be expected in the investment strategy of China, as they are focusing more towards human resources development. The investment will become more people oriented where the people can get direct benefit and human capital can be utilized more efficiently.
He said Pakistan needs to devise a strategy for both Covid-19 impacts and for future investments and make sure that these steps are relevant to socio-economic aspects and human resources development
The session was moderated by Dr. Hina Aslam Associate Research Fellow, SDPI.