Prime Minister Imran Khan said Wednesday that Pakistan is still not out of the woods yet, as far as coronavirus is concerned.

“Pakistan is still fighting a big war against COVID-19,” he said, addressing the Insaf Doctors Forum at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal. He paid tribute to healthcare professionals for offering their services when the virus was at its peak in June last year.

PM Imran credited doctors, nurses and medical workers for “facing such hard times”, adding that they are the ones who face “real pressure” when the going gets tough.

Warning about the impending second wave of the coronavirus, he said that the government has received reports of COVID-19 cases surging in Pakistan daily.

The premier said that it was important for Pakistanis to observe health guidelines as the next two months were crucial, as the winter season approaches.

He warned that cities such as Lahore, Karachi, Gujranwala and a few others — where the level of pollution remains high — are especially at risk from a surge in coronavirus cases as the winter season approaches.

The prime minister lamented at the state of government hospitals in the country, saying that their standards had deteriorated over the years. “My entire family, including myself, were born in Mayo Hospital,” he said. “Government hospitals used to perform well back then. There were proper systems [in place],” he added.

He said that the condition of government hospitals deteriorated when government institutions were nationalised. “Ever since God created this world, whenever the concept of reward and punishments are abolished, that system goes down,” he said.

“Why should I work hard when I get the same money as another doctor who does not work hard at all,” asked the premier.

He hit out at previous governments for getting elected but doing nothing for the masses. “Those who were super rich, they started going abroad for checkups even over a simple cough,” he said. “How were our hospitals to improve then?”

The prime minister said that he was tired of people asking him where was Naya Pakistan. “I am tired of explaining to these people that Naya Pakistan is not a switch,” he said. “[They expect] a government to come into power, press a switch and everything solves by itself. This only happens in fairy tales. In real life, a reform process comes about as a result of a struggle,” he added.

PM Imran stressed on youngsters to study the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as a role model and his achievements in establishing the State of Madinah.

“I see youngsters today reading books on Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They do this as they want to be successful like him. You should read about the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as he was able to achieve what no other man before or after him was able to.”

Speaking about the implementation of reforms in hospitals, the premier said that small groups of influential people were present in every government hospital.

“They had contacts with judges of high courts and obtained stay orders [against reforms]. A lawyer used to represent all of them [mafia with vested interests] who used to obtain a stay order,” he said. “There were obstacles in every path.”

However, the prime minister said that “change had arrived”, adding that the government had set up plenty of “quality buildings” such as the Hayatabad Medical Complex and other medical institutions.

‘Pickpocketers have gathered together’

Turning his guns towards the Opposition, the prime minister said that all those with “vested interests” and the “pickpocketers” had gathered together.

“They are seeing for the first time ever that they will be held accountable for their treacherous attitude towards the country and for looting it,” he said. “They know that here is a prime minister who will not be blackmailed and will hold them accountable.”

The prime minister said that these were the country’s “defining moments”, adding that the mafia stopping Pakistan’s progress will be sent to jails.

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