ISLAMABAD: Tall claims made by the federal government regarding control of the novel coronavirus at the Taftan border were nothing but a pack of lies, alleged senator and senior vice-president of the National Party Mir Ahmed Kabir Shahi on Wednesday.
He also urged the government to immediately stop illegal entry from Afghanistan and Iran into Pakistan and if the government was planning lockdowns in view of the virus situation then it must provide people with food and other basic essentials.
Speaking at a press conference at the National Press Club, he alleged that the situation arising out of the COVID-19 outbreak was alarming in Balochistan.
“In reality, the federal government provided a mobile testing lab just five days ago. And that lab cannot test more than 30-40 persons a day. Also, the federal government has just provided 400 test kits for coronavirus to the provincial government when there are thousands of people in Balochistan who need to be tested.”
“The prime minister keeps moaning about lack of resources but this is the same government that has spent Rs16 billion on Kartarpur,” he said.
At the press conference, he offered some suggestions to the PTI-led government to combat COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
“Millions of rupees are being spent on the social media team of PTI to hide its (government’s) incompetence. After the 18th Amendment, we do not need various federal ministries. We should shut down these ministries and divert their budget to the virus. The budgets of Baitul Maal and Ehsaas programme which are very huge should be diverted towards fighting COVID-19, including importing kits.”
“We must seek the help of China and South Korea to battle the outbreak. Friday prayers should be banned. An inquiry should be launched as to why the Tableeghi Jamaat congregations were allowed in Lahore and other parts of the country,” he said.
Senator Shahi said he had raised the issue in Senate on Feb 26 when at that time not a single case had been reported in Pakistan.
“We had expressed our apprehensions about the possible outbreak urging the government to take preventive measures. We argued that if the country could not tackle polio and dengue then how could it control COVID-19.”
“If advanced countries such as the US, the UK, Italy and China could not tide over the outbreak then it would be difficult for us to control it. We urged the government to take drastic measures. We think that Pakistan had enough time to make preparations but it [time] was wasted,” he added.
Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2020