government imposes lockdown

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.

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.

Notably, two 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).

In recent weeks, the country’s Covid-19 cases and deaths have seen a sharp increase. On Monday, the National Command and Operation Centre was informed that hospitalizations due to Covid-19 have doubled in the last two weeks while the positivity ratio increased to 7.46 percent in the last 24 hours.

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.

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.

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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.

PDM does not represent common Pakistanis

Ayaz Amir, a prominent Pakistani political commentator who regularly appears on Dunya TV, has said that the PDM does not have a future. “I am unable to understand their [PDM’s] agenda and program. What do they really want?” he asked.

Mr. Amir also highlighted the failing state of the economy in Pakistan. “Pakistan’s economic condition is not stable and you expect people to support a narrative which has no practical appeal. PDM’s narrative is only for the elites running this movement,” he maintained.

While narrating the impact of Maryam’s speeches, Amir pointed out that “had the public been with PML-N, people would have come out and stood by Maryam”. “We see it did not happen because there is no serious talk about people,” he said. “Let’s admit the fact that the PDM has no momentum,” he concluded.

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Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst who served as Chief Minister of Punjab during the 2018 polls, said during a talk-show on Dunya TV that “the movement will likely involve more rhetoric than action”. Dr. Rizvi was of the view that the opposition parties won’t be able to stay united as many of them have “competing and contradictory interests”.

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