Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday launched into the opposition for persisting on holding rallies under the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) banner despite a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases across the country.
In a series of tweets, premised on the deadly second wave of the pandemic, the prime minister said the “problem confronting us in Pak during Covid-19 is of a political leadership that has never gone through any democratic struggle, nor worked with ordinary citizens to understand the problems they confront, nor contributed in any substantive way for betterment of ordinary citizens”.
He added the opposition alliance’s “only goal is NRO at whatever cost to the lives of people & the country’s economy.”
NRO — or National Reconciliation Order — has become a part of Pakistani political lexicon where accountability is dispensed at the altar of political expediency.
Khan added that, “In fact not only do these “leaders” lack any empathy with the masses, their families looted national wealth to further impoverish our masses. These entitled “leaders” living like royalty in their secluded mansions, have simply inherited their positions because of their families.”
He maintained that the opposition’s only purpose to hold rallies was to “save their families’ looted wealth & corruption of which they are an integral part. This is all that guides their politics, not any concern for the lives of ordinary citizens. Their desperation to get NRO any which way they can motivates them”.
Referring to the first wave of the virus, Khan further criticised the opposition parties for pressuring the government back then to impose a country-wide lockdown, while disregarding the government’s current ban on public gatherings.
“So, when we did smart lockdown to save our poor from becoming destitute & save economy from total collapse, these “leaders” opposed & demanded complete lockdown. Now, with new spike, when we again need smart lockdown, they want jalsas not caring for the lives & safety of people,” he observed.
The PM’s comments come a day ahead of the PDM’s Multan rally. To be hosted by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the public meeting is to take place in the Qasim Bagh Stadium.
At least 25 activists of the PDM, including PPP’s Ali Qasim Gilani — son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, were arrested yesterday after clashes broke out again between the Punjab Police and the opposition alliance’s workers as they brought a crane to lift containers placed at the various entrances of the stadium.
The PDM workers and the city administration had clashed a day before as well as alliance’s members tried to forcefully enter the Qasim Bagh Stadium.
Moreover, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police have also booked the PDM’s local leadership for holding its Peshawar rally last week, despite being refused the permission to do so owing to a rise in coronavirus cases across the country.
Special Assistant to KP Chief Minister on Information Kamran Bangash claimed that Covid-19 cases had increased after the PDM’s rally.
“Even PDM leaders have contracted the virus,” Bangash said in reference PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Awami National Party’s Samar Bilour testing positive days after the rally.
Bilawal announced having contracted the coronavirus on November 26 and has been self-isolating since, but has urged people to make the Multan public meeting successful with their participation. He drew scathing criticism for conditioning the attendance of guests at his sister Bakhtawar’s engagement on Friday to the production of certified Covid-negative results 24 hours prior, but insisting on making the Multan road show a success.
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