- The worst isn’t over by a long shot
While required to fully concentrate on saving the country from the ravages of Covid-19, the PTI government continues to be fixated on the opposition. Speaking to the media soon after the latest Cabinet meeting, Information SAPM Firdous Ashiq Awan accused the Leader of the Opposition of doing nothing to help out the nation and instead criticising the government for the sake of criticism. This was because Mr Shahbaz Sharif had called for the formation of a parliamentary committee to oversee the spending of the coronavirus-related funds. Similarly Dr Awan told that Prime Minister Imran Khan was annoyed with the PPP’s Sindh government for not easing the movement of goods transport from Karachi. What is more, the PM had tasked Rangers in Sindh to take appropriate measures for movement of the trucks and opening of industries amidst a complete lockdown ordered by the province’s Chief Minister. This amounted to promoting confrontation between the Rangers and the provincial administration.
A perception is growing that Mr Khan is opposed to ordering a lockdown on account of a powerful lobby comprising a group of builders, industrialists and big business houses who care more for profit than for preserving human life. It is argued that the shortage of labour at the Karachi port coupled with the absence of transport on the roads has caused a blockage of imported food items leading to higher prices. The two factors can only lead to a slight increase in prices but no mortalities, as the Sindh government has exempted the food and medicine industry from closure. The lifting of the lockdown before isolating the corona-positive cases would expose the whole province and then the entire country to the pandemic, causing a spurt in the number of deaths.
Dr Awan only confirmed the opposition’s suspicions when she said Mr Khan had asked all PTI leaders, MNAs and MPAs to help in the distribution of the corona relief fund. The admission further justifies the opposition’s demand for a parliamentary committee to ensure that the huge amount of Rs 1.4 trillion is not used for political purposes. Transparency requires that the government tell the nation if the state’s important assets are also being mortgaged to back the issuance of Rs 700 billion Domestic Sukuk Bonds(DSBs) as reported by the media.