'PTI govt bent on undermining Sindh's efforts'
Civil society members pen statement expressing dismay at Centre's response to coronavirus outbreak
KARACHI: Expressing dismay over the federal government's response to the coronavirus outbreak, dozens of writers, intellectuals, academics, lawyers and activists said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government was bent on undermining the efforts of the Sindh government, posing a risk to the health, lives and livelihoods of the people of Sindh.
Members of civil society, including Anis Haroon of the National Commission for Human Rights, writer Noorul Huda Shah, academic Dr Arfana Mallah, writer Jami Chandio, scholar Dr Fahmida Memon, poet Imdad Hussain, civil society activist Karamat Ali, columnist Amar Sindhu, human rights activists Imdad Chandio and Asad Butt, among others, issued a joint statement in this regard on Monday.
Praising the Sindh government's performance, however, they lauded Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah for taking timely and effective steps from the onset of the outbreak in the country.
"It is starkly evident that Prime Minister [Imran Khan] consciously and deliberately opposed all efforts taken by the Sindh government, rather than keeping vigil on the border and at the airports to check the pilgrims returned from Iran," laments the statement.
Pakistan, India 'plan to restart some economic activity' during coronavirus lockdown
It goes on to say that amid the crisis, when Pakistan needs unity at the national level, it was disappointing that the federal government had not only been undermining the executive authority of the province, but also encroaching on provincial affairs by ordering law enforcement agencies to open roads.
"This antagonistic attitude of the federal government has revived a sense of alienation among the people of Sindh," asserts the statement, also highlighting feelings of deprivation and unconstitutional domination by the Centre.
This is not the time to widen the gap between the federation and the provinces, it maintains, saying that PM Khan should instead come forward to forge much-needed national unity and offer all possible support to the provinces.
It urges the Sindh government to focus its energies, resources and efforts to confront the twin menace of COVID-19 and poverty within the province, adding that all possible measures should be taken to secure frontline workers.
36,000 Pakistanis stuck in UAE, Qatar, Oman
"The Sindh government should also adopt a comprehensive mechanism for ration distribution from the district to union council level, to assuage the miseries of the masses in lockdown," says the statement, asking the authorities to pay close attention to Hyderabad, where more cases had emerged.
The writers demanded that the PM shun the politics of vengeance and vendetta, which they said was against the spirit of his oath of office. They also condemned the Sindh governor's statement against the lockdown, adding that the people of Sindh, too, were citizens of Pakistan, whose mandate must be treated respectfully in the spirit of the Constitution.