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April 5, 2020

Opposition parties making own contributions to fight against Covid-19

Peshawar

April 5, 2020

ISLAMABAD: With politics as friction-ridden as before even at this time of national crisis caused by the COVID-19, major political parties are individually making their contributions in the fight against coronavirus pandemic.

Although they face the resource constraint, they are trying their best to mitigate the pain of the suffering lot by exploiting whatever they have at their disposal.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) became activated on the return of its president Shahbaz Sharif from London after four months. He is involved in the COVID-19 related activities on daily basis. Almost every day, he is making suggestions to the government, which are, however, falling on deaf ears.

He has now started distributing the protective kits. The PML-N plans to beef up its contribution in the days to come.

Jamaat-e-Islami’s Al-Khidmat Foundation is doing a great job and is marshalling resources to intensify its share. In collaboration with its local and global partners, Al-Khidmat Foundation has started taking crucial steps to ensure that the most vulnerable segment of society is kept safe. These measures include establishment of isolation centres, emergency medical care, provision of precautionary goods and awareness campaigns. But still millions of underprivileged people remain deprived of supplies and face a higher risk of infections.

The Al-Khidmat Foundation says: “We need the supporting hands of the generous people to ensure safety of the vulnerable people which include a vast number of children and elderly citizens. Don’t forget them in this time of hardship, and support us to protect them throughout this health emergency.”

Jamiat-e-Ulemae Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has asked his supporters to work as volunteers with federal and provincial authorities. In the directives issued to the party office-bearers, he said that the party leaders should approach the national and provincial disaster management authorities and provide them with the lists of party volunteers.

“At the time of pandemic, all party activists stand alongside the administrations and institutions of Pakistan. Our seminaries and volunteers are ready to help the government whenever and wherever it needs.” The Sindh government of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) stands out among the federal and provincial administrations for doing an excellent work in wrestling with the coronavirus, taking lead in every aspect. Chairman Bilawal has announced to set up a party fund to collect donations for the COVID-19 hit people.

However, there are no coordinated efforts among the political parties primarily because of the policy and approach of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to go solo and to not build a national consensus.

Of its initiatives, the one seeking to establish Coronavirus Relief Tiger Force has provoked sharp reaction and rejection from all the opposition parties with one voice. They say an unnecessary controversy has been generated by making the relief effort partisan.

They have refused to be part of a bipartisan committee, proposed by the National Assembly speaker, unless a parliamentary monitoring forum is constituted.

Speaker Asad Qaisar’s effort to evolve a political consensus recently stood frittered away when Prime Minister Imran Khan disconnected from a video conference attended by top opposition leaders including Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal, after delivering his speech. Irate Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal staged a walkout and the whole show flopped.

Among others, the Jamaat-e-Islami has also supported the demand of the opposition parties of giving importance to the forum of the Parliament to address COVID-19. “As there is parliamentary democracy, it is the legislature, which should get significance to resolve national issues,” party’s deputy chief Liaquat Baloch says. “The standing committees of the Senate and the National Assembly on health should jointly oversee all health issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic and should enjoy all the authority.”

He reminded the prime minister that instead of creating Tiger Force, Imran Khan should learn from previous creation of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Nath Forces, Federal Security Force, Sipah-e-Muhammad and Sipah-e-Sihaba, saying that all these forces have been banned.