The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Health Taimur Saleem Jhagra on Sunday said that if the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) thinks that the government is deliberately trying to use coronavirus as an excuse to ban their gatherings, they are totally wrong, Geo News reported.
"We care about our population, our healthcare workers, and our economy," Jhangra said while addressing a press conference in Peshawar on Sunday.
Expressing his concern in view of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), he said that PDM supporters from other parts of the province are coming to the provincial capital so that they could participate in the rally.
Once the workers will return to their respective districts, the risk of spreading the virus will increase, said Jhagra, who himself had contracted COVID-19 in September.
"The Opposition was earlier stressing that stricter lockdowns should be imposed in the country but now they are contradicting their own stance," he said. "If the situation of coronavirus cases worsens within a few weeks, the organisers of PDM rallies will be held responsible for that."
A day ago, Jhagra had said that the government was not opposed to the Opposition's jalsa but keeping in view the spike in coronavirus cases, the public should decide whether political gatherings should take place or not.
Shedding light on the increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases in the province, Jhagra said that the government is taking measures to control the situation.
"We are proactively trying to increase the capacity of hospitals in Peshawar and other districts of K-P to accommodate COVID-19 patients," he said.
He said that in November, the coronavirus positivity rates have increased to 12 % in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
"In view of the recent surge, we are trying to work on reforming the health system," he stressed, adding that the government aims to save both people's lives and their livelihoods through minimal restrictions.
"We, however, have to change people's behaviour toward this virus and for that, all parties and stakeholders have to work together. We must also take care of our health workers," Jhagra said.
Despite the government's resistance toward public gatherings, the PDM has been adamant to hold the Peshawar rally.
PDM chief Fazl-ur-Rehman vowed that the Opposition will not back down and accused the government of using the coronavirus as a tactic to create hurdles for the Opposition.
"This illegitimate government itself is a big corona[virus]," he said, in a press conference in Peshawar, adding: "They found no other excuse, so started raising a hue and cry about the spread of coronavirus."
"While we talk about COVID-19, we should also shed light upon COVID-18," he added.
Fazl-ur-Rehman had not only vowed to go ahead with the rally in Peshawar but promised a flurry of rallies in the days ahead.
"The next rally will be held on November 26 in Larkana which my party, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), will host," he said, adding that another rally will take place on November 30 in Multan.
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