Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has responded to criticism and said the arrival of VIPs at hospitals hampers emergency medical assistance. He said his decision to not visit rain victims on Sunday was deliberate and in the interest of those being rushed to medical facilities.
The PTI supremo visited Lady Reading Hospital on Tuesday and inquired after the health of those injured during the rainstorm that engulfed the provincial capital and adjoining districts three days ago. Claiming 47 lives, the disaster was the worst to hit Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in 20 years. The province’s largest hospital is still housing 22 injured and one of them is said to be in critical condition.
Flanked by wife Reham Khan and Minister for Health Shahram Khan Tarakai, Imran denied the rainstorm was an acid test for the provincial government’s performance. “I was in constant contact with Pervez Khattak. Our ministers focus more on their duties and less on stealing the limelight,” he maintained, adding he directed the K-P cabinet to not flock at hospitals and focus instead on relief arrangements.
Announcing yet another 90-day timeframe, Imran said the LRH will be overhauled and turned into a model hospital within three months. “The health sector is itself ailing in the country,” he said. “Professionals will be hired to revamp the LRH’s basic functioning.”
The K-P government’s strategy of tackling the calamity drew flak from rival political circles. While Khan defended his men with conviction, critics insist the rains washed away PTI’s instruments of managing the region’s largest metropolitan.
Raining on the parade
The PTI chairman’s reasoning has clearly left Awami National Party and Pakistan Peoples Party unimpressed as they continue to lash out at the Khattak administration.
Talking to the media after visiting the LRH on Tuesday, Awami National Party Central General Secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the city was left to the mercy of incoming showers while the K-P ministers were chasing shadows. “It is a clear case of negligence. Administration officials concerned should be put to task,” he said. Hussain was of the view that the meteorological department had forewarned the government about the rainstorm. “The government is responsible for the loss of life and they were caught unprepared despite being informed,” he said. Hussain also visited families of the deceased in Scheme Chowk and other areas.
Meanwhile, the statements of PPP leaders echoed similar sentiments. Former premiers Yousaf Raza Gillani and Raja Pervez Ashraf also arrived in the city. Addressing a press conference at PPP leader Arbab Alamgir’s residence on Tuesday, the former prime ministers condoled with the families of those who lost their lives in the rainstorm.
“We have come to express solidarity with the people of Peshawar during yet another testing time,” said Ashraf. He said the people are unhappy with the way K-P government has responded to the calamity and the rulers should address their shortcomings before it is too late. “The PPP is determined to play its role in the relief and rehabilitation of affectees,” he added. During the conference, disgruntled PPP workers from opposing groups got involved in fist fights.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2015.