ISLAMABAD, Pakistan 

Pakistan’s prime minister on Wednesday said coronavirus restrictions have badly impacted the labor class, urging for an urgent global strategy to protect them.

Addressing the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) virtual summit on COVID-19 and the World of Work, Imran Khan said the crisis created by COVID-19 has left millions of workers unemployed.

“We do not know how long the economy will take to recover but we need to formulate a combined strategy to protect the labor community,” he said.

He said many countries, including Pakistan, depend on foreign remittances by citizens based overseas, whose jobs are uncertain now.

“I would suggest the ILO and other organizations to convince the host countries to be more sympathetic to these laborers, and give them opportunities to continue,” he said.

Elaborating Pakistan’s strategy to stem the virus’s spread, Khan said his country opted for a “smart lockdown” that allowed several sectors, including construction, to continue activities.

He said his government provided cash assistance to millions of poor families which suffered from the virus fallout initially.

India’s strict “curfew-like” lockdown, on the contrary, pushed millions below the poverty line, Khan added.

In April, Pakistan launched Ehsas (care) Emergency Cash Program to provide financial assistance of PKR12,000 ($75) each to some 12 million families affected by the crisis.

Khan lauded the ILO initiative and expressed hope that the exchange of ideas would help mitigate the sufferings of vulnerable groups the world over.

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