ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has expressed concern over the spread of COVID-19 in the country, and said the pandemic has gone out of control in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to incompetence and wrong strategy of the “selected government”.
“The PPP stands by health workers across the country in this difficult time as the third wave of coronavirus sweeps the country,” he said in a statement, adding that mass vaccination is the only way to avoid the economic problems caused by coronavirus.
The PPP chairman said the spread of the virus could have been controlled through a timely lockdown. He expressed condolence to the families of those killed by the coronavirus across the country.
“Imran Khan must understand that it is not possible to accelerate economic activities in the country without controlling coronavirus,” he said.
Bilawal said Imran Khan would have to account for every single rupee of the corona relief fund and he should also tell the people what happened to his so-called Tiger Force that was formed to implement the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for coronavirus. He said that the third wave of COVID-19 was caused by the British variant which has spread through the country due to sheer governmental incompetence in ensuring strict surveillance, isolation and tracing at airports.
The PPP chairman pointed out that Imran Khan, who was suffering from COVID-19, himself chaired a five-member meeting whilst he was meant to be in quarantine.
“How can we expect a common man to take care of SOPs in a country where the prime minister himself does not follow government advisories and refuses to take mandated health regulations seriously,” he questioned.
Bilawal said that due to wrong strategy of the government, the third wave of COVID-19 is getting out of control in the country.
“The trend of voluntary action on SOPs in the country has petered out due to the PTI government's ineffective awareness campaign against coronavirus,” he added.
The PPP chairman said that the world was seeing the light at the end of the pandemic by vaccinating its citizens, but unfortunately the Pakistan government is dragging its feet on ensuring the availability of the vaccine in the country.
“If the vaccination continues at the current rate, only 20 percent of the population in Pakistan will be vaccinated in more than three years,” he said, adding that if the government had the will, it could have procured vaccines in large quantities well in time.
He said sadly Imran Khan's government has only been concerned in free handouts from friendly countries, abdicating all governmental responsibility to its citizens.
Bilawal said that if China did not donate the vaccine, the process of providing doses to frontline health workers in Pakistan would not have started immediately. He said that the people of Pakistan were suffering due to the complete failure of the PTI government to procure the COVID-19 vaccine in a timely manner, and pointed out that a single dose of vaccine available for a few hundred rupees in the world costs thousands of rupees in Pakistan.
“COVID-19 vaccine is a basic human right, which should be provided free of charge or at least at the real world market price,” he said.
The PPP chairman said the statement of the Punjab health minister that people should take the vaccine at their own risk, and the government would not be responsible for any adverse reaction, stoked fear and suspicion among the people about the vaccine. He stated that the federal government has so far failed to take significant steps to improve healthcare in the country, and stressed that other provinces of Pakistan would have to take measures against COVID-19 in the style of Sindh government.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill termed Bilawal’s immature politics over coronavirus as a shameful act.
The SAPM took to Twitter and said COVID-19 cases are increasing across the globe. He asked if KP and Punjab are also responsible for surge in positive cases in India, France, Iran, Italy, Brazil, America and Spain.
Shahbaz Gill questioned the PPP chairman’s role when 40 percent of Pakistan’s cases were being reported in Karachi a few weeks ago.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Usman Dar said Bilawal’s statement on the performance of Tiger Force is just political scoring.
He said in a tweet that Tiger Force worked commendably during the first wave of coronavirus. He said it was the Sindh government which refused to accept the service of Tiger Force.