Lockdown likely if no improvement in a week: minister

Published April 25, 2021
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain addresses a press conference at the Governor House in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain addresses a press conference at the Governor House in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV

KARACHI: Amid growing cases of Covid-19 across the country, the federal government on Saturday warned that it would only wait for a week and if the situation did not improve, then imposing a complete lockdown would be its key option to save the people’s lives.

The warning came from a key member of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government and its spokesman who reiterated that Prime Minister Imran Khan had always resisted lockdown but he would not give priority to the economy over the people’s lives.

“Our government is trying its best to handle the coronavirus situation with the best available tools and options,” said federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain at a press conference at the Governor House. “We make it possible to keep things going amid the pandemic because when it comes to strict measures, the daily wage earners and poor segments of society are hit hard. Secondly traders who make money most in this month [Ramazan]. So we appeal to the traders and the people to please take care and follow the guidelines. Ultimately if the people’s lives come under threat, we would have to go for drastic measures, including complete lockdown.”

He recalled the past stance of PM Khan who during the first wave of the pandemic had resisted imposition of lockdown and wanted to keep the economy open along with adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs) defined by the health experts.

“PM Imran Khan has always resisted lockdown,” the minister said. “He always wants such a system that the economy keeps moving so at least the poor segments of society don’t come under pressure. But now we would wait for another week and if the situation doesn’t improve, definitely we would have to think about complete lockdown.”

Says federal govt wants to introduce Sehat Card in Sindh but provincial govt doesn’t make its contribution

He said apart from implementation of the SOPs and guidelines, the government was actively pursuing vaccination campaign and by all standards Pakistan’s programme was one of the most organised and effective in the world. Within a year, he said, the country’s vaccination programme would achieve its major targets.

The minister criticised the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government in Sindh for “destroying” the province despite enjoying power here for more than a decade.

He said the PTI’s federal government wanted to introduce Sehat Card in Sindh but it was the provincial government of the PPP which had not made its contribution to the crucial public health programme.

“During the last two years, some Rs1,600 billion came to Sindh but no one knows where the amount vanished,” Mr Chaudhry said. “Visit any Sindh district and city, you would only find ruins and devastation. I feel sorry to say that the Sindh government has not met its promises.”

Replying to a question about the recent deal between the government and the banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, the minister rejected the impression that the writ of the state had been compromised and the government had surrendered to “the mob”.

“Unfortunately, the opposition is playing politics on this sensitive issue,” he said. “The government and state institutions displayed character and maturity to resolve the crisis. It’s visible from the attitude of the opposition, mainly the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, that they want to ignite hatred only for their political gains.”

The information minister assured the journalist fraternity of addressing their grievances and referred to a proposal from his ministry to facilitate them under the PM’s housing and health schemes.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2021

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