Opposition lambasts govt over lack of uniform policy on coronavirus

Asad Umar says coronavirus will continue to spread

Our Correspondent May 15, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Ahsan Iqbal on Friday lashed out at the government for its incompetence to deal with the coronavirus crisis in the country.

During the National Assembly session held to discuss the Covid-19 situation in the country, opposition leader Ahsan Iqbal criticized the government for failing to come up with a defined strategy to deal with the pandemic.

“It has been three months since the first coronavirus case emerged in Pakistan and the government is still unable to share its economic and healthcare policies with the Parliament,” he stated.

He further lambasted the government for using the current situation for political point-scoring.

Iqbal criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan saying that he is inexperienced.

“The prime minister is not just inexperienced but incompetent,” he maintained.

"Inexperience is not a bad thing, people learn, however incapable do not," he said adding that the crisis called for the prime minister to unite people and bring them on the same page but instead he only went about criticizing the Sindh government.

He pointed out that none of the state ministers were present in the session to respond to the opposition’s queries.

The former planning minister also called out the government for appointing advisors from the security forces.

“This is the government’s way to hide its incompetence and blame the national institutions for its failures,” the PML-N leader stressed.

He further asked the government to share details of the funds and the debt relief the country has received.

Iqbal asked the government to facilitate the return of stranded Pakistanis abroad so that they could spend Eid with their loved ones.

Pakistan Peoples Party leader Shazia Marri also criticized the government for their ‘lack of seriousness’ to deal with the coronavirus.

“Stop downplaying the coronavirus crisis,” she stressed clarifying that the virus was not only affecting the elderly population but many young people were also victims of Covid-19.

Marri further said that Sindh government was following the guidelines laid down by the World Health Organization.

She said the government needed a uniform policy to deal with the crisis.

“The first coronavirus case emerged in February and the Parliament session is being called in March,” she outlined adding that the government has not defined a clear strategy to deal with the virus.

She also urged the government to focus on the locust attacks which could lead to a potential food security crisis in the country.

Responding to the opposition, Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar warned that the coronavirus would continue to spread.

“Suggestions like imposing a strict lockdown would result in complete eradication of the virus are wrong,” he said.

“If a strict lockdown would have ended the virus then at least some of the countries where the virus has spread could have experimented. That is not possible. We cannot take people’s livelihoods from them. We have to come to terms with the virus and go forward accordingly.”

He further said that that the deadly pandemic would end only when its vaccine is developed. Coronavirus is not like dengue which will crumble after killing mosquitoes.

Many poor countries are now realising the impact of lockdown on the poor which PM Imran had foreseen, he added.

He also added that contrary to what media is showing, the centre and the provinces are working together.

The legislators then traded barbs after Aviation Minister Malik Ghulam Sarwar called for across-the-board accountability.

"I have been in politics for four decades," Sarwar said in the National Assembly. "I presented myself and my entire family for accountability as it is necessary. It is essential for those in government and those who had enjoyed being ministers for many times in the past."

Briefing the house on the repatriation of stranded Pakistanis, the aviation minister said thousands of Pakistanis including students, workers, members of Tableeghi Jamaat, and pilgrims, from across the globe have been repatriated.

He said Pakistani prisoners from Oman and the United Arab Emirates were brought back free of cost.

“Aviation Division operated 181 inbound flights and took over 25,000 passengers to their destinations in 27 countries,” and added that around 250 students from Wuhan and China will be repatriated through a special flight on Monday.

Taking part in the discussion, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Amir Dogar said the government should announce support prices for agricultural produce. He said seeds and fertilizers should be provided on subsidized rates. He said giving priority to agriculture is vital to uplift the economy of the country.

Dogar said health workers and members of district administrations, who are on the forefront in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, should be awarded civil awards.