Pakistan News

PTI govt guilty if death toll multiplies: Sherry

PTI govt guilty if death toll multiplies: Sherry

ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan reports the world’s third highest ratio of positive cases among those being tested for coronavirus, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has asked the federal government to come out of illusions, stop downplaying the threat and act to prevent a serious health crisis.

“Of all people being tested in Pakistan, 20 per cent are reporting positive, which is the third highest ratio in the world,” said PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman in her response to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s latest speech.

She said if the death toll continued to rise at the current pace, at least 25,000 Pakistanis would fall victim to the deadly virus by the end of August. “And yet we are being told that the situation in Pakistan is under control. Which parallel reality is the federal government living in?” she asked.

The PPP senator said: “The first task [of the government] was to unite the nation. He [Prime Minister Imran Khan] has instead chosen to divide it at a time of terrible crisis.”

Unfortunately, she said, “the BISP, which is the only organisation helping [the destitute] and is the most critical element of the economic response to the pandemic, got a 15pc budget cut. If the government is actually so concerned about the destitute, then why didn’t it ensure that BISP’s budget was increased?”

PPP senator asks rulers to come out of illusions, as pandemic demands them to be proactive, not reactive

PM Khan claimed that the government would account for every penny of coronavirus relief fund, but till date even lawmakers had not been informed where the international aid had gone, the PPP senator added.

“We have been asking repeatedly but no heed is paid to it. On the one hand, he [the PM] says that Pakistan is a poor country and, on the other, he is asking our people for charity,” she regretted.

She said: “Pakistan has the fifth fastest outbreak in the world [where the virus is] accelerating beyond the point of containment. Local transmission is 96pc in Pakistan, as per the ministry of national health data.”

Mixed messaging

Sherry Rehman said the federal government was still confused and unable to reach a decision. “This confusion and the government’s mixed messaging have cost us a great deal. Actually, wrong and misleading messaging has become a hallmark of this government’s Covid-19 response.

“Data from across the world clearly shows that all those countries, which showed reluctance in lockdown or reopened prematurely, suffered, but we are continuously given examples of the US and India. Will Prime Minister Khan also answer why the recovery rate in Pakistan is so low?” she asked.

“As per the World Health Organisation report, dated June 20, 6,980 cases are hospitalised in Pakistan and out of which over 50pc are critical, while the government has lifted the lockdown at this crucial time,” Ms Rehman said.

Peak projection keeps shifting

“How can you predict the peak when necessary steps like lockdown, aggressive testing, and contact tracing have not been taken? This is exactly why the peak projection keeps shifting from one month to the other. We had the data from the entire world to make plans but the government still relied on hope,” the PPP senator said.

“The prime minister has been consistently saying that he is against lockdowns. It is easy to say this when he is comfortably sitting in his Banigala mansion, but do we have to wait for the situation to worsen further, for him to consider that a complete lockdown could be a viable option? High time that the federal government realised that this pandemic demands them to be proactive, not reactive,” she added.

The PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate concluded by saying that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf

government “needs to realise that they will be held responsible if the death toll increases, as it will be due to their lack of planning. What Pakistan needs at this time is decisive leadership, so will the PM of Pakistan please step forward and take responsibility?”

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2020

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