Major political parties, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), have opposed the lockdown restrictions in the metropolis and advised the provincial authorities to forcefully vaccinate the public to curb the fourth coronavirus wave.
The Sindh government imposed a lockdown in Karachi and the rest of the province on Saturday due to the rising coronavirus cases. The lockdown will be in effect until August 8
Leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan said imposing a lockdown alone was not the solution to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“What is the provincial government doing to resolve other issues that have arisen due to the lockdown?” asked MQM-P senator Faisal Subzwari as he addressed a press conference at the party’s secretariat. “Why aren't tens of thousands of immigrants being vaccinated? Why aren't mobile vaccination units being set up?”
The senator said the provincial government should answer why people were not being vaccinated from door to door.
He added that the MQM-P was well aware of the fact that Covid-19 was a dangerous disease. “That's why when the lockdown hit in 2020, our party intensified its charity work to provide relief to the people who were affected from the lockdown by delivering rations and other items to people's homes.”
The only way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 was vaccination, Subzwari said, adding that till date, all the vaccines had been provided by the federal government.
“The Sindh government has a budget of several hundred billion rupees. How much has the Sindh government spent so far and how many new vaccination centres did they set up?” he asked.
The MQM-P leader called for the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and increasing vaccination. Citing media reports, he said 40 coronavirus patients of the Delta variant were released while corrupt health officials had been issuing fake vaccination certificates.
“Unfortunately, the provincial government has made the lockdown and coronavirus a business to make money,” he alleged. Health experts were unable to understand how the virus spread can be stopped after eight days of lockdown, he added.
The senator told the media that MQM-P MNA Kishwar Zehra had tabled a resolution in the National Assembly against imposing a lockdown in Karachi.
He demanded that the provincial government provide relief to the traders of Karachi and Hyderabad. “A board of local traders of Karachi should be formed and interest-free loans should be provided to them.”
Criticising the provincial government for not carrying out vaccination drives in lower-income neighbourhoods, the MQM-P leader demanded setting up mobile vaccination centres at the neighbourhood level.
He said the Sindh government called the lockdown a solution to problems but it was not informing the people how much it had increased the capacity of hospitals.
Subzwari alleged that police and assistant commissioners had been minting money by arresting and releasing people and traders.
He also called for vaccinating all the people over 18 even if they did not possess a CNIC.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Karachi leaders on Saturday said the Sindh government was taking decisions on political and vengeful grounds by imposing a lockdown in Karachi.Addressing a press conference at the party secretariat, PTI Karachi President and Sindh Assembly member Khurrum Sher Zaman said Karachi was being pushed back under a conspiracy.
“The decisions of the Sindh government are by no means acceptable,” he said. “The PTI is the largest party in Karachi which has been mandated by its citizens. That is why PPP is taking revenge for not getting votes from Karachi so that the federal government suffers.”
Zaman said the PTI condemned the lockdown imposed by the Sindh government and considered it a political lockdown. “Karachi’s business community and business personalities have also completely rejected the Sindh government's decision to impose the lockdown,” he maintained.
He added that the Sindh government had allowed the industries to work but closed the transport. “When the transport is closed, how will the industries run? This is a failure of the Sindh government,” he remarked.
The PTI MPS said the Sindh government had failed miserably to vaccinate the people of the province. Protests were taking place in vaccination centres due to the non-payment of salaries to their employees, he added.
He claimed that the federal government had provided millions of vaccines to the Sindh government. He asked Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to explain where Rs5 billion allocated for dealing with the Covid-19 crisis had been spent. “CM Shah does not know that the employment of millions of people is associated with this city. How could they even think of implementing a lockdown in the city?”
The PTI MPA criticised the Sindh government for ignoring decisions of the federation and National Command and Operation Centre. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan's special funds had been used for development work in the streets of Karachi, which the Sindh government had failed to do. To date, no other prime minister had cared about the city's streets and neighbourhoods, Zaman claimed.
The PTI’s parliamentary leader in the Sindh Assembly, Bilal Ghaffar, said the meeting held at the Chief Minister's House on Friday was not a consultative meeting as the decisions announced there had already been taken.
He said the PTI, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, Grand Democratic Alliance, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry, and Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry, which were all part of the meeting, had expressed reservations over the Sindh government's decision and everyone was in favour of implementing the SOPs instead of imposing a lockdown.
“In the lockdown, people's shops are closed and police shops are open and this fact was admitted by CM Shah in his press conference on Friday,” Ghaffar said.
“As the PTI parliamentary leader, I had suggested that the Army and Rangers be employed in implementing the SOPs. All stakeholders, including the opposition, should be consulted in all decisions of the province,” he said.
He stated that it was the responsibility of the deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners to implement the SOPs.
PTI Sindh Assembly members Dr Imran Ali Shah and Shehzad Qureshi were also present at the press conference
Jamaat-e-Islami Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman has strongly opposed the provincial government's move to impose a lockdown without taking any measure to ensure the livelihood of daily wagers.
In response to the provincial government's decision, the JI leader said the lockdown would prove to be a financial massacre of millions of daily wagers and small-scale businesses.
Lambasting the provincial government, he said news regarding the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic had been making rounds for long but the government did nothing to devise a mechanism for daily wagers and labourers.
The JI leader also criticised the government for what he called the mishandling of the vaccination process. He said that due to the incompetence of the government and inadequate arrangements, scores of people had gathered outside vaccination centres in blatant violation of the corona SoPs.
He demanded the government to announce measures for the welfare of labourers and daily wagers so that they could meet both ends. He also called for conducting and making public an audit of billions of rupees spent on coronavirus-related welfare activities.
The JUI-F has also voiced opposition to the Sindh government’s move of imposing a lockdown, saying that businesses would have been forced to close down, owing to which traders and labourers would experience financial hardships.
In a statement, JUI-F Sindh Secretary General Allama Rashid Soomro said the lives of the residents would be paralysed due to the lockdown. “The Sindh government was trying to become a government of batons and bullets. Why is the government not paying attention to vaccination in the city?” he said.
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