- Says no provincial government should bypass the directions of the federal government and NCOC
- Criticises Sindh govt for not implementing SOPs in the province
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Saturday that the Sindh government’s decision to impose a lockdown will only increase the plights of the common man, adding that the province is the jugular vein of Pakistan's economy.
“The province is the jugular vein of Pakistan's economy and when it’s improving, you are talking about imposing a lockdown,” the minister complained.
Fawad did not mince words he addressed the media in Lahore, saying that no provincial government should bypass orders of the National Command Operation Centre (NCOC) and the centre.
In wake of the surge in coronavirus cases, the Sindh government-enforced what it called a partial lockdown in Karachi from July 31 (Saturday) till August 8. The decision was taken in a meeting of the Provincial Corona Task Force on Friday, chaired by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who later said that this lockdown is partial, and not like the one imposed earlier.
While the federal government said that a complete lockdown was not the solution, Sindh said some strict measures needed to be taken. Otherwise, the provincial health system would suffer, said CM Murad on Friday.
However, Fawad said that no provincial government should bypass the directions of the federal government and the NCOC when it comes to containing the spread of the coronavirus.
Fawad asked the Sindh government to immediately open industries that it has closed down until August 8.
He termed the Sindh government's decision as concerning: “When your strategy is yielding results, you don’t change it in this [haphazard] manner,” he said.
He also noted that the Sindh government should follow the strategy given by the federal government. “You cannot take unilateral decisions on the matter. You cannot neglect the strategy of the federal government. All your plans should be devised after approval of the NCOC and under the guidelines of the federal government,” he said.
"If you were wise enough, Karachi should not have been in the condition it is today,” he added.
He said that the Sindh government’s decision to unilaterally impose a lockdown will affect the country’s economy. He stressed that Karachi should not undergo a curfew-like situation. “You must focus on vaccinations, and industries with 100 per cent vaccination of its workers should be opened,” he advised.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the PM on Political Information Dr Shahbaz Gill said that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is working on a plan to ruin the economy of entire Pakistan.
“Poverty and corruption are rampant in Sindh,” he said in a Twitter message, adding that “with the third lockdown, the Sindh government is attempting to end people's livelihoods.”
The Sindh government has not focused on implementing SOPs from day one. If they [Sindh government] implement SOPs and impose smart lockdown, they won't have to do this," he said referring to the lockdown decision.
Sindh Governor Imran Ismail also urged the provincial government to "review its lockdown decision."
"Sindh government has not taken the federal government into confidence regarding the decision," he said adding that "we are ready to help but the provincial government will have to cooperate."
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Thursday said that a complete lockdown is not the solution even as Sindh, especially provincial capital Karachi, recorded a surge in coronavirus cases.
Umar also gave August 31 as a deadline to all those in the transport sector, students above 18 years of age, law enforcement agencies, employees of public sector entities, marriage halls, hotels and restaurants to get vaccinated, adding that these are sectors dealing with the public the most.
On Saturday, Pakistan reported 4,950 new cases, out of 58,479 tests, according to the NCOC. These are the highest number of cases recorded since April 29, when 5,113 new infections were confirmed.
Sindh again accounted for most of the new cases, reporting 2,862 infections. Islamabad confirmed 359 infections, Punjab (728), KPK (460), Balochistan (127), Gilgit-Baltistan (88) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (326).