Pakistan’s opposition party on Monday accused the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan of wrongly handling the coronavirus crisis, because the total number of COVID-19 patients in the country rose to 31,684. During the session of the National Assembly held after almost two months, Pakistan
The leader of the Muslim-Nawaz League (PML-N) and former defense minister Khawaja Asif led the criticism.
Deputy Chairman Qasim Khan Suri chaired the session in the absence of Speaker Asad Qaiser who had just recovered from coronavirus. This meeting is the first since the outbreak of COVID-19 in this country.
Asif said that the federal government was confused over the issue of how to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
“Our current situation is due to the negligence of around two months indicated by the government. When we have fewer deaths, the whole country is completely closed. Now we see dangerous surges in cases, they reduce lockdown restrictions,” he said.
He also criticized the government’s inability to increase testing capacity. “Two weeks ago, we were told that our testing capacity would be increased to 50,000. But now we are told that it is only 20,000,” he said.
He said that the government divided the nation rather than uniting it on one platform because it did not have a strategy that also revealed the Prime Minister’s inability.
Pakistani People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that the federal government is blocking the Sindh government’s efforts to overcome the coronavirus crisis. He said that regulations prepared by the provincial government were not permitted by the governor.
“We demand that the regulation be passed without further delay,” he said, adding that his party, which has power over Sindh, wanted to support the prime minister to overcome the crisis.
“The federal government should stand shoulder to shoulder. We are in the middle of a war, and the prime minister expects us to fight alone?” he said in the National Assembly.
He also said that the center did not provide equipment to medical professionals and questioned whether the federal government wanted the province to fight the “weaponless” virus.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi defended the handling of the government’s pandemic, saying the situation of COVID-19 in Pakistan is different compared to Europe and the United States.
“Our mortality and infection rate is 2.17 percent. Worldwide this percentage is 6.8. So we have largely avoided the greater consequences of this pandemic,” he said.
He also claimed that Pakistan was ahead of other South Asian countries in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
Qureshi also accused India of using the coronavirus crisis to divide people. He said that Iran sent 4,000-5,000 Pakistanis across the border despite requests to wait until quarantine facilities were developed.
Minister of Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar said hunger was as threatening to Pakistan as the corona virus itself. “We are not a western developed country where people can sit and eat at home. We must balance hunger and poverty with viruses,” he said at the National Assembly.
He said that if the government continued locking, 20 million people would be below the poverty line.
Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in the country surged to 31,684. Of 31,684 cases, Punjab enrolled 11,568 patients, Sindh 12,017, Khyber-
Pakhtunkhwa 4,875, Balochistan 2017, Islamabad 679, Gilgit-Baltistan 442 and Kashmir occupied by Pakistan, 86 patients.
Another 28 people have died in the past 24 hours, bringing the COVID-19 death count in Pakistan to 667. Another 8,212 have recovered so far.
On Monday, Prime Minister Khan chaired a crisis meeting at which he was briefed on the latest efforts to control the spread of the disease after easing was locked.
According to an official statement, Khan said that “lockouts are being carried out in stages according to the situation and to maintain a balance between business and health needs”.
Meanwhile, an army officer died because of coronavirus.
“Major Muhammad Asghar risked his life on the Torkham border in the battle against # COVID-19. Evacuated to CMH (joint military hospital) Peshawar with respiratory problems, using a ventilator but died of the Corona Virus. There is no greater reason than serving the Nation,” a military spokesman tweeted.
Also, the Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan (PCAA) extended the ban on domestic flights until May 13 as part of government instructions to minimize people’s trips. The previous ban ended on May 10.
Information Minister Shibli Faraz launched the “Masks for All” campaign as part of the government’s move to contain COVID-19. He said that five million free masks would be distributed throughout the country.
Separately, Special Assistance for Security Dr Moeed Yusuf told the media that the government is working hard to return all stranded Pakistanis as quickly as possible.
“We will try to do everything to restore our people. We are currently trying to bring back 10,000 Pakistanis, mostly from Middle Eastern countries,” he said.
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