Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar alleged on Monday that the PPP's Sindh government was politicising the coronavirus vaccine deployment despite not having a "single dose" of the vaccine.
Umar was addressing a PTI workers' convention in Shikarpur on development projects in the area when he made the remarks.
The federal minister said the Sindh government was "lying" in press conferences about its procurement and delivery of vaccines because "they don't have a single vaccine [dose]", adding that the PPP should be "ashamed" for politicising an "issue pertaining to people's health".
He said the federal government was providing all the vaccine doses for the inoculation campaign and the Sindh government would be "standing in lines for the vaccine [saying] that the federal government should give it".
"Tell them [Sindh government] not to worry, we will give them the vaccines because the people of Sindh are as precious to us as people of other areas and Sindh is ours just like the rest of Pakistan is ours."
He additionally said that the people of Sindh in Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Ghotki did not feel safe.
Umar said when the injustices against the people of Sindh are discussed with the Sindh government then they "remember the 18th amendment".
He said he will request Prime Minister Imran Khan to "take responsibility" for the people of Sindh and protection of their lives and livelihood.
The minister said he would be discussing development projects later in the day with the elected representatives and leaders of the region, a report of which would be submitted to the prime minister.
He reminded the gathering that when PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari called out for lockdowns "and when Sindh Chief Minister said no one dies from hunger, the prime minister knew what poverty could do and the Centre announced the biggest welfare project for the help of the people in Pakistan's history".
Umar said in just two months after the onset of corona, Rs200 billion were distributed among the people of Pakistan, out of which Rs65bn were spent on the people of Sindh.
The federal minister's remarks criticising the Sindh government come after he expressed similar criticism the previous day at a gathering in Karachi, where he accused the Sindh government of not owning the metropolis.
“If the one who enjoys all powers doesn’t work here in Karachi then someone has to do it,” said Umar.
“But we see when the federal government comes up with a plan for development of Karachi, hurdles are created. It’s all because of the flawed system of the local government and it must come to an end,” he said.
'Govt of statements and accusations'
Shortly after Umar's address, Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab lashed out at the Centre, saying that the incumbent administration's "modus operandi from day one has been na khelain ge, na khelnain dain ge (neither will we play, nor will we let others)".
"This is a government of accusations, statements and press conferences. It does not believe in working, unfortunately," he said and added: "Again and again, they (federal government officials) lead the nation astray by twisting facts and never state facts."
He said Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had written a letter to the federal government on January 21 regarding the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine.
"Today, he gets a reply of that letter saying 'it's better if we do it'. This is important. They did not say 'go ahead and do it, we are with you' or that 'here take some money and procure some more [...] but if you still insist, we will issue an NOC'," Wahab said.
He further said that instead of buying the vaccine, the government was relying upon philanthropists or donations.
Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah, in a statement released in response to Umar later in the day, advised the planning minister to "pay attention to Punjab". He said that the "crime rate in Punjab is the highest in the country".
He said that the provincial government would be glad if Centre initiates development project in interior Sindh as well, adding that "they (projects) should be practical steps not just statements".
Pakistan's vaccine deployment
Pakistan's vaccination campaign is about to be underway as the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines arrived in Pakistan from China on Monday via a special Pakistan Air Force (PAF) aircraft.
The batch contained 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine that has been gifted by China. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health (SAPM) Dr Faisal Sultan announced the development in a tweet and expressed his gratitude to the Chinese government and "everyone who made this happen".
"NCOC and provinces played an instrumental role in tackling Covid. I salute our frontline healthcare workers for their efforts and they'll be first to get vaccinated."
Additional input from Imtiaz Ali.