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Two-day learning workshop on ‘Pakistan’s COVID Response – Lessons for Improving Governance’ kicks off

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The FCDO-funded Sub-National Governance Programme (SNG), implemented by Oxford Policy Management, kickstarted its two-day National Learning Workshop on “Pakistan’s COVID Response – Lessons for Improving Governance” in Islamabad on Wednesday.

The Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood chaired the opening session with the Acting British High Commissioner Lona Thomas and policymakers, sector experts, practitioners, and others.

Shafqat Mahmood commented that while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, no government had any precedence and Pakistan was no exception. He said that fundamental decisions were taken resulting in Pakistan’s COVID response that was appreciated globally.

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“We were able to keep our economy running and the poor protected through various economic stimulus programmes and social protection initiatives,” he said.

“Through a national coordinated response beyond politics and narrow partisan lines, a countrywide response helped Pakistan get back on its feet quickly.

While dealing with education emergency Pakistan introduced Teleschool just 15 days after the pandemic and then moved to online teaching. This also manifested the digital divide and now we are working on the Internet for All initiative which will ensure that everyone has access to the internet and its associated benefits in education and otherwise,”, the minister added.

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The Acting British High Commissioner Lona Thomas while talking about Pakistan’s COVID response said that ‘Pakistan has been extremely successful in returning to near normalcy (Pakistan ranks second in the Economist COVID normalcy index, after Egypt). The fact that we are all here today, in person, is proof of Pakistan’s success so far.”

Lona Thomas further added, “I am even more delighted we have made this journey together. Several FCDO programmes worked closely with federal and provincial authorities during the pandemic. The Subnational Governance Programme (SNG) in particular worked with centre-of-government institutions to help forge a successful response to the pandemic. SNG has mobilized quickly with well-informed advice and supported creative and effective responses to the challenges brought about by the pandemic. This collaboration itself is a testimony of the strong UK-Pakistan partnership, of which we are very proud.”

The Session on Handling Public Finance in Crisis was chaired by the Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht while the session on Social Protection was chaired by Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Senator Dr. Sania Nishtar who talked about various social protection measures that supported the most vulnerable and disadvantaged across the Country.

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