Fawad Chaudhry, senior leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Federal Minister for Science and Technology, praised the Sindh government’s measures to tackle the coronavirus crisis, which has so far left 19 people dead and over 1613 infected in Pakistan.
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Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, Sindh government’s performance in Pakistan was questionable. However, Sindh’s first man, Syed Murad Ali Shah, led the province from the front and utilized the crisis as opportunity to demonstrate his leadership skills. The Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) government in Sindh has received token of appreciations from various segments in Pakistan.
The PTI’s minister who is known for his vocal and controversial statements maintained that some provincial government disappointed the nation. “Some provincial governments have played a dynamic role but some did not; in this regard, Sindh government remained the most proactive,” Chaudhry said.
Fawad also congratulated Sindh’s Chief Minister who himself monitored all the developments and made sure that no negligence take place while dealing with Coronavirus outbreak. “This is why the Sindh chief minister deserves appreciation and I commend his efforts. I congratulate him on that,” he added.
With regard to the Punjab government’s measures, the federal minister said it was a question for the provincial chief minister Usman Buzdar’s leadership to answer. “There should have been better communication from the rest of the governments, there are many instances where they failed to carry out adequate communication that essentially was needed. The Taftan issue, too, is one of those instances,” Chaudhry highlighted.
He, however, added that federal governments did not engage in micromanagement and that it was for the provincial governments to decide. “We [the centre] can only guide them and provide the required facilities; decision-making is for the provinces to do and they should do it accordingly,” he noted.
With regard to a lockdown on a national level, he said the biggest problem was “the special trade traffic, if halted, will make us unable to obtain three million tonnes of wheat, which may lead to a shortage” of grain in Pakistan.
“The government has only controlled oil and gas traffic for two days and there has been a shortage of petrol and diesel in Gilgit-Baltistan. How do you deal with that? “If a curfew is placed, it would have to lift for 3-4 hours every day and then there’d be queues, so what then would be the use of the curfew? he asked.
In response to a question on religious extremism, the federal minister said the ignorant people were, in fact, the God’s curse. “A huge part in the COVID-19 spread in Pakistan is due to religious gatherings,” he mentioned.
On the matter of lockdown, the premier remained indecisive despite the dangerous nature of the threat emanating from Coronavirus outbreak
“Conservative Ulema [scholars] destroy the society but only the Ulema who speak the truth are a blessing,” he added. On the other hand, he said while the National Coordination Committee should meet every day, contacting each and every political party during an emergency was a waste of time.
During the same program, Murtaza Wahab, the spokesperson for the Sindh government, criticized the federal government for being lethargic while deal with a huge crisis like this. “The federal government, unfortunately, did not take the lead like it was supposed to,” Wahab said. “The government of Sindh tried engaging with the federal government and put forth recommendations to it and the provincial governments but the response was unfortunately not what we were expecting,” he added.
He further explained that it was the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that border areas were kept clean. “Border control is the federal government’s responsibility, not the provinces’,” he added. “It was the federal government that was responsible to monitor and quarantine the Zairean [pilgrims from Iran],” he maintained.
Analysts believe that the indecisiveness manifested by the incumbent federal government not only exposed the state of governance in Pakistan but it also raised some serious questions about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s understanding regarding crisis and its management. On the matter of lockdown, the premier remained indecisive despite the dangerous nature of the threat emanating from Coronavirus outbreak. Experts now suggest the government to remain proactive and vigilant if it wants to regain the confidence it has just lost.