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Corona SOPs violation: Shibli warns of strict lockdown

Top Story

June 4, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz Wednesday made an appeal to the people to strictly follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the face of rising cases of coronavirus in the country or else the government would have no other option but to re-enforce the lockdown.

Speaking at a news conference along with Parliamentary Secretary for Railways Farrukh Habib here, the minister regretted that the majority of the people was not adopting precautionary measures following easing of restrictions. He cautioned that strictness would have to exercised, if public did not adopt precautionary measures and shopping centres, shopkeepers and transporters who did not enforce SOPs, would face action/fine.

It was being considered to approach the courts, he noted, with regard to 'prolonged' stay of Nawaz Sharif and questioning his guarantor (Shahbaz) about this matter.

Shibli Faraz said the government was pursuing an organised and coordinated strategy to control the spread of the pandemic and this was the reason the corona cases were far less than the earlier estimates and the countries of the region. He contended that objective behind relaxing the restrictions was to save the poor segments of the society from starvation and keep the wheel of the economy moving, which the PTI inherited in a very bad condition. However, he said, the government was able to stabilise the economy, but the lockdown after corona outbreak hit it badly.

On the importance of precautionary measures, the minister contended that these protected from the pandemic like umbrella did from the rain. He expressed heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of coronavirus on behalf of the government and Prime Minister Imran Khan, including legislators belonging to both sides of the political divide in the Parliament, who lost their lives due to the virus.

About locusts attack, he said all the relevant departments of the government were working in close coordination to address the issue. He said that like COVID-19 a well-thought out strategy was being followed to make the fight against the locust swarms successful. He added that National Locust Control Cell has been established to tackle the issue in coordination with all stakeholders. He said that by June 10, 15 planes would be available for spray of pesticides in locusts-hit areas.

Referring to the political situation in the country and opposition outcry of victimisation, the Minister dispelled the impression being given by the political opponents, especially PML-N leaders.

The minister pointed out that Shahbaz Sharif failed to attend the National Assembly session summoned on his own demand and skipped the NAB hearing for fear of the coronavirus, but personally went to the Lahore High Court for seeking bail.

He continued that Shahbaz Sharif was the guarantor in Nawaz Sharif's permission to go to England for medical treatment, and now he should be questioned why the elder Sharif was absconding, whereas he was seen roaming in London. He said that the PML-N was trying to befool the masses by slogans of victimisation, but the people of Pakistan had fully realised that those who have properties and families abroad could not be their well wishers.

Making it clear that the accountability process would go ahead, as this was the motto of Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said future belonged only to those parties, which believed in the service of the public, not in loot and plunder as used to be the habit of the rulers of the past.

The minister emphasised that action would be taken against the mafias who held the country's economy hostage for their own vested interests.

Shibli Faraz said Prime Minister Imran Khan had exposed the mafia and the money plundered by the corrupt elements would be recovered and spent on the poor people. He said that Sharifs were reaping what they had sown by looting and plundering national wealth with both hands. He said that it was ironic that former accidental prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was facing LNG reference, and Ahsan Iqbal, who possessed an Iqama, when he was federal minister, were giving lectures on morality and fair play. He asked the ‘Aristotles’ of the PML-N to reply to the question how Rs17 billion were deposited in the accounts of Sharif family by their employees Masroor Anwar and Shaoib Qamar whose personal salary was mere Rs18,000 per head.

Shabaz Sharif family's wealth, he alleged, was multiplied by 800 times through telegraphic money transfer. He reminded Shahid Khaqan that he was rejected by the people of his constituency in Murree and he was donated a seat by Sharifs in Lahore. He called for return of Salman Shahbaz and Ishaq Dar to face cases against them.

Shibli Faraz said the government was considering approaching the courts for return of PML-N leadership (Nawaz Sharif), who went to London on the basis of Rs50 stamp paper. It was being considered, he noted, to move the courts so that Shahbaz, who was the guarantor on Rs50 stamp paper for the treatment of his brother, as to where was Nawaz and what was he doing in London and why should not be brought back.

Replying to questions from media persons, the minister claimed that the PML-N stood divided into various factions while the one in London was making viral his pictures, as if he was active and could return any time and it was a message to opposition leader in the country. He alleged that Shahbaz would appear, as if he had conquered Kashmir while he was hiding from the NAB. He added that placement of his name on the ECL was under consideration and that the evidence against him was sufficient and he could be arrested any time.

The minister said that no question was raised with regards to transparency in giving away cash to the lockdown affected families and so far over Rs112 billion had been distributed.

To another question, he contended that all and sundry had witnessed that how the opposition pushed for the NA and Senate sessions and then their leadership stayed way, fearing the virus while their party legislators made their way to the sessions. He alleged that the opposition had been holding the legislatures hostage instead of putting in their share for legislation in interest of masses. The minister added that the opposition parties just wanted to make issues and seek production of their leaders, who preferred themselves to stay way. “From now, they are trying to make NA speaker controversial in relation to production orders,” he noted.

The minister said that those, who had looted and plundered the institutions and the national wealth were roaming free and would appreciate, if a judgement was given in their favour and would term it not good, if it was given against them.