Sindh's Murtaza Wahab says federal govt 'didn't take lead' over coronavirus pandemic

Web Desk
March 29, 2020

'Sindh tried engaging with federal govt and put forth recommendations ... but response was unfortunately not what we were expecting,' he said

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The News/via

KARACHI: Sindh government spokesperson Senator Murtaza Wahab on Sunday criticised the centre for failing to take lead during the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 1,550 people across the country, as of reporting time.

Of the total cases, Punjab is leading with 571 and its death toll has shot to five.

Speaking during in Geo News' programme Geo Parliament, Wahab said neither the centre nor the other provincial governments responded to the recommendations as per the Sindh leadership's expectations.

"The federal government, unfortunately, did not take the lead like it was supposed to," Wahab said. "The government of Sindh tried engaging with the federal government and put forth recommendations to it and the provincial governments but the response was unfortunately not what we were expecting.

"Border control is the federal government's responsibility, not the provinces'," he added. "It was federal government that was responsible to monitor and quarantine the zaireen [pilgrims from Iran]."

Explaining lockdowns, he said it did not mean banning essential items but offered to step up once again to help explain what was required.

"If the entire country decides today to regulate [a lockdown], we, the Sindh government, can explain and guide in detail what categories are exempted," the senator noted, adding that although only train operations were suspended on the centre's orders, it was the provincial leaderships that chose to halt interprovincial travelling and public transport on the provincial borders.

Had a lockdown decision been taken a month ago, the situation would have been quite different, he underscored.

"There's no travelling from Sindh to Punjab or Punjab to Sindh; all provinces made their decisions in this regard," he added. "If the federal government takes lead as the elder brother, as the father figure, our work can be improved tremendously."

Wahab criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for leaving the Opposition leaders midway through a video conference. "There was nothing more important for the PM than the coronavirus issue. It's his responsibility to united everyone," he stressed.

With regard to the relief and aid items, the provincial government spokesperson said their distribution was under the National Disaster Management Authority's (NDMA) control. "Sindh has so far only received the face masks; we didn't get the rest of the items."

In light of Jang Geo Media Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman's arrest, Wahab said the PPP had strongly condemned the move and that the courts should release him on bail.

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