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Bill Gates arrives in Pakistan, meets Imran Khan

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ISLAMABAD: Microsoft co-founder William Henry Gates, better known as Bill Gates, met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on his first ever visit to the country said Thursday.

Earlier, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan confirmed Gates’ arrival to Pakistan for a one-day trip.

Taking to Twitter, Dr Sultan welcomed Gates to Pakistan and said that the philanthropist will meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Arif Alvi and provincial health department officials on the occasion.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Mr Bill Gates on his first ever visit to Pakistan,” Faisal Sultan wrote.

He said that the tech billionaire, who is also the co-chairman of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major contributor in worldwide polio eradication, will attend a review on Pakistan’s efforts to wipe the virus out of the country.

The SAPM told that Gates would visit the National Command and Operation Centre and Ehsaas Programme headquarters on the sidelines of the one-day visit.

Meanwhile, the NCOC issued a statement saying that Gates along with his delegation visited the forum’s headquarters in Islamabad and attended its morning session. On the occasion, the philanthropist met NCOC chief and federal minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and SAPM Dr Faisal Sultan.

During the NCOC session, Gates and his delegation were apprised about the NCOC’s role and methodology, its achievements since the start of the pandemic, the recent Covid-19 situation across Pakistan and various restrictions imposed by the forums to control disease spread and ensure public safety and well being.

A comprehensive review of Pakistan’s efforts against Covid-19 along with a briefing on genome sequencing (prevalence of various variants in the country) was presented to visiting dignitaries.

“Mr Gates took a keen interest in various initiatives of the NCOC, particularly smart lockdown, micro smart lockdown strategy enforcement measures, Pakistan’s vaccine administration regime which enabled the forum to formulate and implement a comprehensive coronavirus response,” the statement read.

Moreover, Umar acknowledged the efforts of the philanthropist and his foundation to support Covid-19 initiatives in Pakistan, while the former appreciated Pakistan’s success in the fight against the pandemic despite resource constraints.

Gates also lauded Pakistan for introducing excellent initiatives and measures for public health safety.

Meanwhile, sources said that Gates would also visit the Covid-19 treatment facility in Chak Shahzad before he leaves Pakistan the same evening. 

In January 2019, Microsoft co-founder showed his interest in exploring investment opportunities in Pakistan.

Bill Gates expressed the interest to explore investment opportunities in Pakistan in a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Bill Gates foundation President Chris Elias called on PM Imran Khan here on Tuesday and handed over the letter to him.

The letter also states that the Bill Gates foundation also intends to invest in health sector of Pakistan.

World Health Organization GD Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was also present on the occasion.

Both the visiting dignitaries appreciated efforts of government of Pakistan in eradicating polio from the country, saying that they want to see Pakistan polio-free in the future. 

In December 2018, Imran Khan and Bill Gates had a telephonic conversation during which the latter praised Pakistani leader for his efforts for eradication of polio.

Gates, also a renowned philanthropist, assured his continuing support in different fields including strengthening the IT sector in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked Bill Gates for the support he has extended in social sector. 

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