Shehbaz, Bilawal storm out of leaders meeting over PM’s attitude
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari walked out of the meeting of the parliamentary parties’ heads on the coronavirus over Prime Minister Imran Khan’s non-seriousness.
The two leaders said they would not return until the prime minister attend the gathering, as Shehbaz said Imran presented the excuse of engagements while leaving the meeting and didn’t pay attention to their points.
He said in his absence they could not continue to attend the meeting as they had participated in the meeting keeping in the view the problems being faced by the general public. “The prime minister must listen to our viewpoint also,” he added.
On their boycott of the meeting, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi requested them to return to the event. “I urge you to please show big-heartedness and come back. This is a national issue,” he added.
Still against the lockdown: PM
Prime Minister Imran Khan said that he is still against the complete lockdown of the country for which Pakistan is not prepared now.
Addressing the parliamentary members of the ruling party through a video link, the PM said “There’s a confusion over the definition of the lockdown,” adding that “We don’t want the lockdown that amounts to the closure of the transport.”
The PM said that Sindh went too far in locking down the province, adding that the other provinces followed suit under the growing media pressure, but “The Centre will hold a distinct view, independent of any pressure.”
“I fear the consequences of a complete lockdown,” PM Imran Khan said, and added “Although the people living in DHA will be able to hoard the food during the lockdown it is the daily wager who will bear the brunt of this phase.”
He said that Gilgit Baltistan faced oil shortage following its PML-N-led government’s decision to lock down the region, and said “When the decisions are made out of fear, they have consequences as fear prevents sanity from taking right decisions.”
He said even the West was unable to cope with the pandemic where the dominant agenda is whether to control the coronavirus or to save the economy. The PM said “No government alone can control this situation unless the people are united in following it.”
He also said “We’ll put our proposal before the National Coordination Committee tomorrow,” and reiterated his stance against the lockdown that included the closure of the transport amid wheat harvesting season.
Imran said “Construction industry should continue to work, otherwise I fear a huge number of daily wagers will have to suffer.”
However, the PM said if the federal government would decide to impose curfew if it had the logistics to sustain it.
PM Imran said the first meeting was conducted on coronavirus issue on Janurary 15 and added that he sent Dr Zafar Mirza to Taftan on February 20.
While explaining the source and spread of the coronavirus in Pakistan, the PM said that not a single coronavirus case came from China as a result of “the difficult decision,” the government took in the beginning by barring the Pakistani students from coming back to the country.
While thanking China for accommodating Pakistan’s concern, the PM said “Iran did not have enough resources to retain the Pakistani pilgrims who eventually ended up on Taftan border.”
The PM said “Pakistan had only 153 local transmission cases, all the rest came from outside,” and added that until the last week the government screened as many as 900,000 people at the airports.
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser summoned the meeting of the leaders of the parliamentary parties at the Parliament House.