LAHORE: The opposition parties after a mutual consultation on Tuesday presented a charter of demands to meet the challenge posed by Covid-19 pandemic.
PML-N president and National Assembly opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, after consultations with the leaders of other opposition parties issued a joint declaration, rejecting the creation of ‘Tiger Force’ by Prime Minister Imran Khan as a political stunt and called for immediately setting up a parliamentary monitoring committee to prevent “usage of Coronavirus Relief Funds for political purposes”.
Mr Sharif spoke to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Jamaat-i-Islami emir Sirajul Haq, Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party head Mahmud Khan Achakzai, Qaumi Watan Party head Aftab Sherpao and National Party chief Hasil Khan Bazinjo and formulated a charter of demands for the government.
Through the charter, the opposition leaders sought parliamentary oversight for the monitoring and just distribution of Coronavirus Relief Fund set up by the prime minister. The leaders demanded that a parliamentary monitoring committee be set up immediately to ensure transparency in procurement and distribution of relief goods. They also demanded that the criteria for disbursement of ration among the labourers and other deserving people be shared with the opposition, warning the government against using the fund for any political gains.
They also demanded that a meeting of the Coronavirus Parliamentary Senate Committee and Standing Committee on Health be called immediately and be briefed on the on-ground situation of the outbreak.
The opposition leaders demanded that coronavirus testing be made free at all hospitals and the scope of the testing be widened.
The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) must be revived and operationalised with immediate effect, they demanded.
They reiterated their call for the provision of protective gear to doctors, nurses and paramedics engaged in handling virus cases besides additional ventilators without delay.
They said an awareness campaign should be launched and all regional and national sources of information be applied for its dissemination. A Disease Surveillance System was imperative and must be established while factual data be gathered and the truth be shared with the nation, they said.
The opposition rejected the so-called ‘Tiger Force’ saying in the presence of the police and the already active Rangers, this step was mere “political gimmickry”, therefore, the nation’s money and resources must not be wasted on this. Instead, they demanded, the local governments must be revived immediately to increase administrative strength.
Shahbaz Sharif also demanded convening of the National Security Committee to clear, what he called, confusion created on the issue of lockdown by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2020