Imran warns of total lockdown if rallies continue

Published November 23, 2020
In this Nov 7 file photo, Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a gathering in Municipal Stadium, Hafizabad. — APP
In this Nov 7 file photo, Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a gathering in Municipal Stadium, Hafizabad. — APP

• Says opposition will be responsible for consequences
• NCOC reports 2,665 new cases, 59 deaths

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said the government would be compelled to enforce complete lockdown if the opposition did not desist from holding public gatherings at a time when the country was reeling under the impact of Covid-19.

During the last 24 hours, the highest number of positive cases was reported with 2,665 people getting infected and 59 losing their lives.

Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Khan said the opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would be responsible for the consequences if it continued with public gatherings despite a surge in Covid-19 cases. “In (Pakistan), the PDM by continuing with Jalsas (public gatherings) is deliberately endangering lives and livelihoods (because) if cases continue to rise at the rate we are seeing, we will be compelled to go into complete lockdown & PDM will be responsible for consequences,” Mr Khan said in his tweet.

He said the data was quite alarming as there was a 200 per cent increase in the number of patients on ventilators in Peshawar and Multan during the last 15 days. It was 148 per cent in Karachi, 114pc in Lahore and 65pc in Islamabad.

Seventy per cent ventilators were in use in Multan and Islamabad, he added.

The prime minister said the world was facing a second wave of the virus with many countries going for complete lockdown. “I do not want to take measures like a lockdown that will start hurting our economy which at the moment is showing signs of a robust recovery,” he tweeted.

About PDM’s public meetings, Mr Khan said the opposition was callously destroying people’s lives and livelihoods in their desperation to get relief in cases against their leaders.

“Let me make it clear: they can hold a million Jalsas but will not get any National Reconciliation Ordinance-like concession,” he said, adding that unfortunately the opposition’s only goal was to get an NRO at the cost of people’s lives and the country’s economy.

Peshawar rejected PDM:

Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz on Sunday said by putting lives at risk when the country was seeing a spike in cases was ‘political cruelty’ and ‘oppression’.

Senator Faraz said people of Peshawar had rejected PDM’s public meeting by not attending it.

In a tweet, the minister said: “Mentality of selfish political coterie was exposed as it was playing with lives of innocent people and workers for minor political advantage. The criminals who maligned the national institutions and destroyed the national economy now went after lives and employment of people.”

Due to their [opposition] irresponsible behaviour, people’s livelihoods were getting affected, he said. “People would hold them accountable for ‘coronavirus of corruption’ as staging public meetings despite the court orders was violation of law,” he added.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan said people of the province had once again proved that they stood with PM Khan, accusing the PDM leadership of disregarding public safety for political gain.

The CM said Peshawar was and would remain a stronghold of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

Also, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar said the opposition should refrain from playing with the lives of the people by holding rallies. “The government is not holding rallies and large gatherings because of the pandemic,” he added.

He regretted that it had become a norm for the opposition to give priority to political and personal interests.

Special Assistant to CM on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said coronavirus was a reality and the entire world was taking precautions. She said the opposition was doing politics only for face saving despite the fact that the second wave was more lethal.

“Your life is more important than politics. If life lasts, so will politics,” she said, adding that it was not possible to enforce SOPs in public gatherings.

“If people’s lives are at stake, the government will take strict legal action,” she added.

NCOC data

According to the National Command and Operation Centre, 2,665 new cases and 59 deaths were reported from across the country during the past 24 hours.

With the addition of new cases, the tally of confirmed cases surged to 374,173. At present, 1,653 Covid-19 patients were in critical condition, while so far 329,828 have fully recovered.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2020

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