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KARACHI: While holding the federal government responsible for prevailing coronavirus crisis in the country, Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has announced to convene all parties conference at the provincial level on the issues of newly constituted National Finance Commission Award and alarming situation of pandemic in the country.
The PPP chairman made this announcement while addressing a press conference here at the auditorium of Sindh Assembly building on Saturday. He was accompanied on the occasion by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Education Minister Saeed Ghani, Law Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab.
The PPP chairman said that lives and health of people of Pakistan had been endangered by the federal but the economic situation had also been devastated. He said that the without any support from the federal government, the Sindh government of PPP would continue to do its best while utilizing whatever resources it had to safeguard the people from the unabated harm of the coronavirus epidemic.
About a package for journalists during the pandemic, Bilawal said the Sindh government is working on a proposal to tie up the arrears of the media houses lying with the Sindh government to be directly released into the journalists’ individual bank accounts. He said we would like the journalist and media organisations as well as the representatives of the media houses to discuss the proposal with the Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah so that both the journalists and the media houses could benefit and the issues of the media arrears could be resolved.
Bilawal said the Sindh government would keep on increasing its COVID-19 testing capacity. He claimed that the testing capacity of Sindh was more than that of the other provinces. He said that federal government through its narrative and consistent non-cooperation had endangered the lives and safety of the medical professionals who are the frontline warriors against the spread of the coronavirus. The PPP Chairman that federal government is attempting to befool the people about the capacity of health care system of the country by presenting the coronavirus-related statistics in a wrong manner. He said that high dependency units of the hospitals have run out of capacity due to ever increasing number of critically ill patients being rushed to the health facilities for emergency care. He said that federal government had not come to the support of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments, which needed emergency fiscal support for protecting lives of its people and increasing capacity of their health care systems. He said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had the lowest testing rate and the highest mortality rate and asked how long the people will endure the incompetence of PTI government.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari noted that Covid-19 outbreak and spread in the country was not accidental but its spread was allowed deliberately through inaction and creating confusion. However, he pledged that "we will do our utmost to save the people from this pandemic." The PPP chairman further stated that Sindh government's efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus were forcibly sabotaged while federal government didn’t prepare itself to fight against the viral spread and protect the population.
He said that pressure is mounting on hospitals in Karachi and there will be no space for more patients and asked who should be held responsible for this dire situation?
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that doctors and nurses are also ringing the alarm bells but to no avail. "Don't listen to me, listen to the front-line soldiers, what will happen if we seek opinions from the traders about the pandemic?”, adding that it was ironical that Prime Minister Imran Khan didn’t meet doctors, nurses or medical professionals to seek their opinion on the virus. He said that health workers have the right to get security risk allowances because their lives are at serious risk.The PPP chairman asked the federal government to correct its attitude as it has left the people, doctors and nurses on mercy of the nature and has proved to be working for the rich in the name of the poor.
Criticising the federal government over sacking the Pak Steel workers, he asked what is the justification for making 10,000 people unemployed during such raging pandemic? The PPP chairman said that federal government should cut the hordes of ministers, advisors, special assistants, both imported and imposed ones, but not make the poor unemployed.
He said that the PPP had been warning the government about locusts for posing grave threat to our agricultural crops endangering population with food insecurity. The federal government had promised aerial spraying on locusts in May-June which was not done so far, he added.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that PPP's position on NFC was clear adding that Party’s provincial chapters were planning APCs in which the issue of Coronavirus and NFC will be discussed. He said that PPP and Sindh government had objected to the composition of the new NFC but these objections were not addressed by the federal government.
He said that Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan are under the administration of the federation but federal government wants to delete these parts of the country from the list of its own financial obligations which shows that the allegation against government of selling Kashmir to be true. What message it wants to send to the world by giving Azad Jammu & Kashmir the status of a province,” he questioned. Bilawal said that if Gilgit-Baltistan is to be given the status of a province, then amend the constitution accordingly. The message of the federal government about AJK is very dangerous.
He said that PIA was also not being handled under a planned scheme. Tragedy of PIA's crashed plane was very unfortunate but the federal government is making attempts to malign the brave pilot. He said we will do our utmost to save the people from the pandemic. “Vietnam and our resources can be compared. Vietnam took immediate measure to save its economy and people from Coronavirus,” he added. However, with people at the helm of affairs in the federal government continuing we could neither be able to save the population from coronavirus now nor we may save the economy from devastation, he stated.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that serious politics was needed during the coronavirus pandemic. An attempt was made to blame the PPP for the murder of journalist Aziz Memon. He said that journalists of Sindh are very brave and we always and welcomed and tolerated criticism.
Replying to a question, he said that the Sindh government has other options including lockdown. “Sindh government has taken steps from day one to protect its people but the federal government has not helped us and misinformation has been given to the citizens,” he added. PPP Chairman said that when the government kept changing its decisions, there was confusion in Pakistan and asked why the PM criticises Sindh questioning that does he not know the state of public health services in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and termed this criticism as unfair and based on political point-scoring.
Meanwhile, the PPP Information Secretary Dr Nafeesa Shah said how many more lives the federal government wants to sacrifice to realise the gravity of the pandemic situation.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan is still not serious about the killer pandemic COVID-19,” she said while commenting upon the federal government’s policy towards the COVID-19.
Dr Nafeesa Shah said that nearly 2,000 lives have been lost and one lac people have been tested positive. She said dozens of doctors, paramedics and policemen have lost their lives, but Imran Khan is still confused. “Now Imran Khan and Asad Umar are once again trying to confuse people of Pakistan,” she said.
She said the Centre says that the effect of this pandemic in Pakistan is very less which is totally wrong. Dr Nafeesa Shah said Prime Minister Imran Khan's problem is lockdown and he is against this precautionary measure from the start. “He is unaware that COVID-19 cases in Pakistan have surpassed number of cases in China,” she said.
APP adds: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz Saturday asked political parties, especially the opposition, to act responsibly and avoid blame game on tackling of the challenge of coronavirus pandemic.
Addressing media along with Minister for Communications and Postal Services Murad Saeed, he said unfortunately some political parties were indulging in political point scoring on the issue of coronavirus. He said Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah was part and parcel of decision-making process in the National Coordination and Operation Centre (NCOC), but he had the habit of issuing baseless statements later, adding that the opposition could not digest the way the PTI government had handled the crisis.
The minister said the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also during a press conference had made baseless allegations against the federal government which was an effort to mislead the masses.
The minister said with the grace of Allah Almighty and the sagacious policies of PTI government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan’s tackling of the outbreak of coronavirus was far better than many advanced countries having robust economies and modern healthcare systems.
Shibli Faraz said the government had adopted a comprehensive roadmap to handle the coronavirus challenge which was being appreciated at world level. He said the government had adopted the policy of saving lives as well as the protecting the vulnerable segments of the society from hunger and starvation, adding that despite economic constraints, the government gave a mammoth stimulus package of Rs1.2 trillion to provide cushion and support to every segment of the society affected by the contagion. He said NCOC had been chalking out efficient strategies all the time to meet the challenge.
The minister said all the stakeholders including medical experts and chief ministers of the provinces were part of the NCOC which had been collecting and monitoring data on daily basis and formulating future line of action.
The minister said every loss of human life due to the pandemic was regrettable, but so far the loss of lives and number of patients in Pakistan were far less than the estimates of the experts which was manifestation of the success of the policy adopted by the government.