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How has COVID-19 exposed PDM’s leadership?

PTI's Asad Umar has said the dual standards of opposition leaders are visible as on one hand, they are calling on the masses to join their power shows while on the other Asif Ali Zardari is demanding COVID-19 report from his family function participants.

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Federal planning and development minister Asad Umar said Wednesday the country has sufficient space in hospitals to accommodate patients at present which can run out with increasing COVID-19 cases. While speaking in Arshad Sharif’s Power Play, planning minister Asad Umar said the dual standards of opposition leaders are visible as on one hand, they are calling on the masses to join their power shows while on the other Asif Ali Zardari is demanding COVID-19 report from his family function participants.

The federal minister said that back in October, the COVID-19 infectivity rate was between 1.8- to 1.9 percent which in the running month has hiked to 5 pc. He said with increasing infections the number of patients in the hospital is surging as well.

With the speed of COVID-19 cases in the country, we will soon have a medical emergency, Asad Umar said, adding that within coming weeks the country is looking at a June-like situation when the pandemic outbreak topped in Pakistan.

He lamented that opposition parties have reassured their supporters that COVID-19 is nothing to be worried over and the Pakistan Democratic Movement alliance is mobilizing people to attend their political rallies at a point when the second COVID-19 wave is peaking.

Separately earlier today, the World Bank has pledged to provide US$19.85 million to Pakistan for the country’s response, recovery, and resilience in the education sector amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to the agreement materialized today in the presence of economic affairs minister Makhdum Khusro Bakhtiyar, the country director of World Bank Najy Benhassine signed the funds to Pakistan for the education project.

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The project of WB is aimed at strengthening federal and provincial actions towards the education sector so a proper response can be concreted and to support the country’s short term recovery in this sector from the COVID-19 crises.

COVID-19 cases in Pakistan

In Pakistan, the maximum positivity rate had reached 23pc in June as it had increased from 6pc in May, while the positivity rate was brought down to 1.7pc in September.

There had also been an increase in the number of infections reported at educational institutions across the country, with 19pc of total Covid-19 cases being recorded among students. The positivity ratio in educational institutions rose from 1.8pc to 3.3pc during the last week — an increase of 82pc.

Three days ago, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood has said that all educational institutions, including schools, colleges and tuition centers, will close down from November 26 (Thursday). Educational institutions had faced a six-month closure from March to September due to Covid-19 and now in the pandemic’s second spell, education ministry officials had said the closure had become imminent due to the rising numbers of cases.

A day earlier, Pakistan Peoples Party leader and ex-lawmaker Nabil Gabol said that if people love their lives they must avoid joining political rallies amid the Covid-19 outbreak. He was speaking to Kashif Abbasi, a prominent anchorperson, in his show Off The Record, when he said that Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is only holding political rallies and protests, but at the end of the day, it is up to the people whether they want to join them or not.

Uzma Bukhari, a leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has said that her party and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of 11 opposition political parties, can halt rallies if the government imposes a complete lockdown across the country. She was speaking to Mansoor Ali Khan, a prominent anchorperson, in his show To the Point. “The government is not giving us any clear policy. This is not fair if they [government] intends to control the PDM,” she said.

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However, Mohammad Malick, a senior journalist, contradicted Bukhari and urged her not to politicize the pandemic. “Political leaders need to show some maturity. When they ridicule the SOPs given by the government, they primarily belittle the threat of COVID-19 pandemic which has the potential to cause a heavy loss to the economy and people at large,” he said.

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