ISLAMABAD: Voicing concerns over increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the members from the opposition parties in the National Assembly (NA) joined hands to criticise the PTI government in creating health crisis in the country by lifting lockdown across the board.
The opposition members including the PML-N parliamentary leader Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Shazia Marri, Abdul Qadar Patel, Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, Mufti Abdus Shakoor and others alleged that the Prime Minister Imran Khan himself gave contradictory statements with regard to intensity of COVID-19 on different occasions.
“In the first instance, the prime minister asked the nation that nothing to worry about it as the COVID-19 is type of flu and then he said it is virus,” Khawaja Asif and Shazia Marri while taking part in debate on presidential address to joint sitting of the Parliament said.
The two parliamentarians also offered the government to put opposition leaders behind in prisons if the same action could be any solution to problems being faced by the country.
Khawaja Asif while declaring lifting of lockdown as wrong decision, questioned as to who could understand speeches of the prime minister who gave contradictory statement from start of the pandemic. “On March 17 said it is ordinary flue, in May he said it was not exemplary lockdown and then on June 4, the prime minister said he knew that COVID-19 cases will increase after easing the lockdown,” Khawaja Asif said, adding the prime minister also asked the people to take care as difficult time is approaching.
“The prime minister is used to issue a statement whenever he receives a telegram,” Khawaja Asif said alleging that the government lacks governance and neither it has any policy nor any direction. Saying that there was no clarity in statements of the prime minister, questioned would anybody tell as to what Imran Khan wanted to say.
He also questioned the cabinet members as to why there was shortage of petrol in the country at a time when petroleum product were in abundance in the international market.
At the same time, the PML-N leader Khawaja Asif conditionally supported government’s decision to privatise a number of entities including PIA and Steel Mills. However, he asked the government to delay the process and wait for an appropriate time so that the entities to be offered for privatisation get the best price. “We will not object even if you go ahead with privatisation of PIA but the whole process should be transparent,” he said, adding the government should also appoint financial adviser for the purpose.
The opposition member fearing transparency in the privatisation process raised question over inclusion of Zulfi Bokhari in the privatisation committee, saying they have no objection over other members of the committee.
Shazia Marri of PPP criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for not attending the National Assembly proceedings, saying that the premier himself and his government did not take the pandemic as seriously due to which a health crisis had been created in the country. “The government is not aware of gravity of health crisis which is going to take place due to contradictory statements of the prime minister,” she said.
She also came harsh on the government in handling the sugar issue saying it was the Prime Minister who constituted the inquiry commission on sugar while neither the names of those held responsible were placed on the ECL nor any FIR was registered against them.
She said that instead of giving more jobs, the government was removing over 9,000 employees of Steel Mills. Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) rejected planned privatisation of Steel Mills and other entities which he said would result in joblessness of a large number of workers and also alleged non-transparency in the Ehsas Programme.
The JI member demanded provision of COVID-19 testing facilities in Chitral district. Mohsin Dawar said that the people of ex-Fata were still facing menace of terrorism which he said was more serious issue that COVID-19.
Abdul Qadar Patel of PPP criticised the prime minister and government for not taking action against those responsible for sugar crisis and 400 percent increase in prices of medicines. “Jahangir Tareen is being made scapegoat while now the sugar case will be handed over to paralysed NAB,” he said.
Former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said the government was preparing to reduce prices of tobacco products only to benefit some multi-national companies. Mufti Abdus Shakoor said that it was JUI-F which implemented precautionary measures against COVID-19 while the minister played havoc with all the SOPs.
Khurram Shahzad of PTI said the country and people could not afford lockdown for a long period, saying the government was stuck to its current policy. Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz has asked the opposition to avoid playing with lives of the countrymen for the sake of petty political and personal gains.
In a statement issued on Thursday he was of the view that speech of PML-N leader Khawaja Asif in the National Assembly was a manifestation of complete ignorance of the regional and global situation in the wake of the outbreak of coronavirus.
Khawaja Asif's speech was a collection of contradictions and an attempt to distort the facts, he added. Shibli further stated that political magicians could not mislead the people by using the forum of Parliament as previous regimes have destroyed national institutions and made them directionless.
He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan following his reformation agenda had set the direction of the country on the path of prosperity and development and all the challenges were being handled accordingly.
The people of Pakistan, he said, were conscious and those who prioritised personal interests over national interests could no longer befool the people. He lamented that the opposition was playing politics instead of giving positive suggestions to tackle the crisis. whereas Prime Minister Imran Khan he said was taking all possible steps to protect the nation from coronavirus pandemic and save it from hunger.
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