• Asks chief minister to move SHC against poll schedule given by ECP
• Lays foundation stone of cardio complex in Korangi

KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday rejected the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold local government by-elections on remaining union committees and union councils in the province during Ramazan and asked the provincial government to immediately move the Sindh High Court against the election schedule.

He said this while speaking at a ceremony after laying the foundation stone of the proposed 1,200-bed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (ZABICVD).

The ECP had set April 18 as the date for the by-elections on 93 UCs in 26 districts of Sindh, including 11 UCs in Karachi division, where elections were not held in the first and second phases due to death of candidates.

“We reject such a decision of the ECP,” he said, asking Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and CM’s Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab to immediately approach the SHC against the schedule issued by the ECP.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that Sindh was being deprived of local government representatives. “PPP was accused of not wanting local elections, but now who is stopping this system from moving forward,” he asked.

He said that the provincial government had held the local government elections. “Some elements are hindering the election of a PPP mayor and now our mandate is being robbed off,” he added.

Appeal to shun politics of hatred

The PPP chairman also expressed concerns over the ongoing digital census in the country and said that the PPP had drawn a red line on this matter.

Talking in the context of current situation in the country, he emphasised that some political parties should leave the “politics of lies, hatred and threats of bullying” as only parliament and elections were the venue of political fighting.

The PPP chairman said that the country was going through an economic, political and constitutional crisis. “The politicians of hatred, division and bullying are requested to shun their undemocratic behaviour and participate in the development of the country,” he appealed.

He said that there was a scam going on in the name of health cards in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where public money was being given to private insurance companies instead of spending on hospitals.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that under the 18th Amendment, the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) was handed over to the Sindh government in the year 2015, and now this institution had become the world’s largest free heart disease hospital.

He said that NICVD-Sukkur was the largest hospital after NICVD-Karachi, while there are satellite centres associated with this institution in Hyderabad and Larkana as well as in Tando Muhammad Khan, Sehwan, Nawabshah, Mithi and Khairpur.

Seventeen chest pan units are functioning in Karachi, while such units are also functional in Ghotki, Tando Bago, Jacobabad, Umerkot, Tando Allahyar, Mirpurkhas and Shikarpur, he said.

Addressing Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel, he said the Sindh government can established NICVD’s satellite centres in Islamabad within six months if federal government wanted.

‘World largest cardiac centre’

The facility is stretches over an area of 40 acres and is located just north of the intersection of main Korangi Road.

Speaking on the occasion, CM Murad Ali Shah apprised the PPP chairman of the facility and the health initiatives he had taken so far.

He said that after the NICVD the new institute would be a huge achievement of the provincial government.

He claimed that ZABICVD would be the world’s largest cardiac centre after completion. It would cater to a projected population of 20 million in Karachi and also to the rest of the country.

“This state-of-the-art complex, equipped with the most advanced medical technology, will comprise seven buildings, occupying a total area of 2,400,000 square feet,” he said and added that it would offer specialised cardiac medical services, including 16 major and minor operating rooms, 18 cardiac health labs, two MRI labs, four CT labs and a range of imaging procedures.

Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, provincial ministers, MPAs and other party leaders were also present.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2023

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