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Zafar Mirza was disappointed the government didn’t defend him

Says there were tensions between elected, unelected cabinet members

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 12, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Posted: Nov 12, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago

Dr Zafar Mirza, the former special assistant to PM on health, said that he was disappointed after the government didn't defend his appointment when political rivals accused him of corruption.

The government should defend its unelected cabinet members when propaganda is being run against them by the media or bureaucrats, he said in an exclusive interview with SAMAA TV. "The government shouldn't leave its people on their own to defend themselves."

"This is one of my disappointments," he said. The government called people to serve on certain posts and didn't come out for their defence, he lamented.

"I am a Pakistani and I have no dual nationality," Dr Mirza said. I left my job and came to Pakistan to serve the country, he added. "We feel honoured when we are asked to come back to our country so the government should work towards making things easy for us."

Speaking about his decision to step down, he said that there was friction between the elected and unelected members of the cabinet. The tension is there in assemblies as well. Another problem was that I was briefing the media every day during the coronavirus lockdown, he said, adding that people feared that I was becoming "too prominent". The matter was also discussed in a cabinet meeting.

"I was just giving updates to people about the lockdown and coronavirus cases in the country," he added. "My immunity must've been very weak," he chuckled.

Many people claimed that I stepped down as SAPM because I wanted to leave the country, he said. "Well, I am still here."

Medicine from India

NAB had launched an inquiry against Mirza over his alleged involvement in importing medicine under the banner of life-saving drugs from India. Four hundred and fifty medicines were imported by his ministry.

On August 5, 2019 the PM decided to suspend bilateral trade with India after it illegally annexed Kashmir. The problem with that was that 50% to 60% of our raw materials for manufacturing medicines come from India, explained Dr Mirza. If we had halted that we would have to import medicines at higher prices and all manufacturing would have stopped, he said. "I held discussions with the PM and he issued a waiver for life-saving drugs."

Rising number of coronavirus cases

Pakistan has to stay cautious as the cases of the novel coronavirus can increase, he remarked when asked about the second wave of the virus. "I think we have more cases than those being reported."

He shared that the data from Islamabad and Sindh is quite reliable. We faced problems while getting data from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. "People should never try to hide the data," he warned.

Dr Mirza said Pakistan should take precautionary measures as the situation can go out of control.

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