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April 24, 2020

PM’s logic to ease restrictions beyond comprehension: Bilawal

National

April 24, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Thursday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan's logic and reasoning to change the restrictions which were already in place is beyond comprehension.

“For the first few weeks, the lockdown went relatively well and the people were abiding by the restrictions,” he said while in an interview with the BBC World News. He said, “The prime minister eased some restrictions including barber shops and tailors in the country so it was difficult to convince the religious minded people to follow the same restrictions about prayers.

“Before prime minister's easing of restrictions, the religious people were cooperating as only five members of mosque staff were allowed to offer prayers and people were urged to pray at home and there was no need to ease those restrictions, however, now the prime minister is justifying his decision risking the lives of the people,” he said.

He appealed to the people of Pakistan to stay at home and spend the month of Ramazan praying five times at home and protect themselves. The PPP chairman said that Sindh was the first province to impose the lockdown and Sindh government had engaged the religious community because we do not have the capacity or police to stop congregational prayers in the mosques because mixed messages are coming from the federal government.

“We are still trying to engage the religious community but it is now difficult when the prime minister is making an issue about freedom. "I think this is a colossal failure of leadership", he said.

Bilawal Bhutto said, “When we compare ourselves to the rest of the Muslim world like Saudi Arabia, Iran and others, they are taking steps to save the lives of their citizens.” This is not the time for populous electoral decisions. It is time to take decisions on the advice of doctors and health experts. Doctors of Pakistan from Lahore to Karachi are protesting or holding press conferences appealing to take those necessary steps to protect them and ease the burden on our healthcare system,” he said.

He said that there are capacity issues and no province is being supported up to their expectations by the federal government in increasing their testing capacity. He said, “Sindh is testing the most per capita and we want the federal government to support all provinces of Pakistan in increasing their testing capacity. No country in the world is designed or capable to maintain such a lockdown but everywhere the governments and leaders prioritise the lives and health of their citizens. We in Sindh work with a philosophy that we can bring the economy back to life, but not the people,” he said.

Bilawal said that the economic indicators were already bad for Pakistan before Covid-19 pandemic because it was mismanaged by the government. He said the World Bank (WB) report says that Pakistan, Afghanistan and Maldives may enter a recession as a result of this pandemic.

He said the federal government has the responsibility of running the economy and now it has also the responsibility of protecting the lives and health of the people and securing their livelihood.

“It was ironic that the first relief package by the federal govt was for the construction sector instead of doctors and nurses who risk their lives every single day,” he said. The PPP chairman said that Pakistan will regret not spending a higher ratio of GDP on health. “Whenever the PPP came to power, it drastically increased the spending on healthcare,” he said.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that he is not only worried for Pakistan but also for other developing countries at the time of the global pandemic. He said that for the last decade from US to India we witnessed flirtation with nationalistic popularism and partisanship and moving away from multilateralism. The PPP chairman said that we as a global community were not prepared to deal with such a pandemic and unfortunately, Pakistan did not forge national unity required to fight this pandemic.