Nationalist parties oppose lockdown

Dub it 'a drama' by the Sindh govt to embezzle funds in name of ration distribution

Z Ali May 03, 2020
A police officer stands guard in front of drivers and their rickshaws (tuk tuk) which were stopped for not providing valid reasons to travel, during a lockdown following the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Karachi, Pakistan April 9, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

HYDERABAD: Sindhi nationalist parties have voiced opposition to the ongoing lockdown in the province, dubbing it "a drama" by the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government to embezzle billions of rupees of public funds.

"Instead of seriously dealing with the threat of the coronavirus, the Sindh government is making a false show of a lockdown," said Sindh United Party (SUP) president Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah, who convened a meeting attended by the leaders of multiple nationalist parties in Jamshoro on Saturday.

The leaders of Awami Tehreek (AT), Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, Awami Workers Party, Awami Jamhoori Party and Jeay Sindh Liberal Front, among others, attended the meeting and discussed the prevailing crisis.

Later addressing a press conference, Shah said a practical lockdown was not visible in any part of the province. Yet, he added, several businesses had been forced to close down, owing to which traders and labourers were experiencing financial hardships.

Shah, the former deputy speaker of the Sindh Assembly, said that the provincial government had failed in helping people who were suffering due to the lockdown. He also deplored that doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff in the province were exposed to the virus as the government had failed to provide them personal protective equipment (PPE).

"Doctors are on the frontline in the war against the coronavirus, but they do not have proper protective gear," he said, holding the government responsible for doctors falling prey to the virus. "However, ministers, advisers, their families, and staff move around wearing the PPE gear."

The SUP leader accused the provincial government of embezzling billions of rupees of public funds in the name of ration distribution, adding that rations disbursement exercises, in areas where these were actually being conducted, were driven by political interest.

The nationalist leaders further claimed that the federal government was disregarding the dignity of the beneficiaries of Ehsaas Kifalat Programme in the way it was distributing cash grants. They also blamed the Centre for blatantly violating health advisories by not being mindful of social distancing and public gatherings at the distribution centres.

Moreover, they opposed any changes in the 18th Amendment, which would deprive the provinces of their autonomy, and warned that the move might result in repercussions for the federation.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2020.