Imran Khan - Angela Merkel
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran spoke to German Chancellor Anela Merkel to discuss global debt relief initiative. Image Credit: Twitter/PM office

Dubai: In a surprise move, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan sought help from Germany to back his ‘global debt relief’ initiative for developing countries like Pakistan to fight coronavirus.

Imran spoke to German Chancellor Anela Merkel on Tuesday to convince her about his proposal for a ‘Global Initiative on Debt Relief’ which he put forward more than a week ago.

Imran has been seeking donation from overseas Pakistanis and the international monetary organisations as his country faces acute economic crisis due to lockdown to combat coronavirus. Increasing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Pakistan also forced him to extend the lockdown for another two weeks until April 28, leading to more economic challenges. He has already announced $8 billion stimulus package to feed 12 million poor families in the country.

According to series of tweets by the Prime Minister Office, Imran told Chancellor Merkel that COVID-19 had unfolded an unprecedented global health & economic crisis, where developing countries will be hit harder due to lack of fiscal space and debt servicing. People in the developing world face a starker choice: death by COVID-19 or by hunger.

He also underscored that ability of the developing countries to cope with the COVID-19 challenge would depend on providing urgent debt relief, at their request, and without onerous conditions.

In another tweet, the prime minister hoped that alongside the UN Secretary General, countries like Germany would provide leadership to this issue, in the forthcoming G-20 Finance Ministers Meeting as well as Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.

Earlier last week, Prime Minister Imran appealed to the world financial bodies to introduce ‘global initiative for debt relief’ for the developing countries like Pakistan facing worsening financial meltdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pakistan recession

Pakistan, which has already experienced low growth rates in recent years, could well fall into a recession with 1.8% population growth, that would imply a painful decline in per capita income,” according to a report released by the World Bank.

COVID-19 deaths

The nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients shows that the confirmed cases have jumped to 6,209 while number of deaths has risen to 113 and more than 1400 patients have recovered. With 3,016 cases Punjab remains the worst-hit followed by 1,668 in Sindh, 865 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 240 in Balochistan, 234 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 140 in Islamabad, and 46 Pakistan Administered Kashmir.

Needs better coordination

As the number of cases continues to increase despite lockdown for the last three weeks, Chief Minister of Sindh Murad Ali Shah has called for a greater coordination between the federal and the provincial governments to effectively fight against coronavirus. “There were some issues that the provinces and the federal government did not agree on. Some provinces and the federal government agreed that some essential workplaces should reopen. We did not agree to open shops for barbers, plumbers, electricians etc,” he said.

“We all agreed to restart the automobile sector and domestic flights with the implementation of decided SOPs. We, however, suggested that the federal government wait for another two weeks before resuming domestic flight operations. We also agreed on the reopening of export-related industries,” he added.

“In light of recent numbers, there may be a need for stricter implementation of the lockdown in the coming days. We have told the federal government about imposing strict measures,” he said.

Repatriation plan

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Moeed Yusuf on Tuesday said that beginning April 20, the government will be bringing 6,000 to 7,000 stranded Pakistanis back to the country.

Yusuf said that mrthe airspace was closed on March 21 with a view to prepare for the arrival of people so they can safely return to their homes without risking the transmission of COVID-19.

He said that according to information received by the government, there are around 35,000 Pakistanis looking to return to the country. “We will bring them back as soon as we can.”