Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that the federal government has not treated Sindh in any unjust manner. We have given Sindh more masks and protective gear compared to its population.
“No injustice has been done nor will it ever be done because Sindh is ours too,” the federal minister said while taking the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.
He even dispelled the PPP and PML-N’s claims that the federal government is not coordinating with other provinces, especially Sindh. “There’s no confusion between the provinces and the federal government. A policy has been imposed across the country which was framed after including the PPP’s point of view,” Qureshi said while addressing the Senate floor on Tuesday.
The PPP’s claims that they were being left out do not make any sense since as Prime Minister Imran Khan has been paying heed to the problems and prioritising Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah’s suggestions during the meetings on the coronavirus situation.
A senior PPP leader did not want the Senate to meet on the issue yet the PTI is being blamed for calling the session late, the PTI leader remarked.
As for the PML-N, the minister said, the input is being taken from PML-N leader and Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman.
He said the government is aware that COVID-19 a national crisis and it is all ears to the recommendations made by the opposition, including their criticism.
“Planning Minister Asad Umar chairs a meeting every day where representatives of all provinces are present,” said Qureshi.
The federal minister also made the PTI’s vision clear about the 18th amendment. He said the government has no intentions of tinkering with it, however, some changes can be made with suggestions of other provinces since it has been 10 years it was last amended.
“Amending the law requires two-third of the majority and we don’t have it, then why are you worried about it? We also want our provinces to have some autonomy.”
As for the Sindh Governor Imran Ismail’s move of rejecting a bill of the Sindh government that aimed to grant relief to public in rent payments and utility bills, Qureshi said Sindh is not authorised by the Constitution to make such decisions.
The coronavirus has claimed thousands of lives in developed states such as the US, UK, Italy, France and Germany. Qureshi believes developing countries like Pakistan face more repercussions of the pandemic because of their economic state.
“Lockdown is not the solution, only a vaccine is, but it will take at least a year or two more until it’s created. Until then, we have to take precautionary measures that will help to flatten the curve,” he said.
He, however, admitted that with business activities suspended under the lockdown, Pakistan has to deal with major financial losses and that makes the battle against coronavirus harder.
Qureshi claimed that 18.6 million Pakistanis would’ve been laid off and millions more pushed below the poverty line if the lockdown was not lifted after May 9.
He said the lockdown was lifted after analysing data of 2.5 months and taking into account a considerable lower mortality rate in Pakistan as compared to that of Europe.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman partially agreed with the statements of Qureshi. She lauded him for stressing on the national cohesion but remarked that the ruling party is only busy in spewing hatred against the PPP.
She claimed that an “unwarranted hate campaign” is launched every single day by junior members of the PTI.
“Two to three junior members of the PTI have been put on duty only to spread hate against Sindh,” she said, adding that the PPP has, however, instructed its members not to play fire with fire because that’s unethical.
The senator added that the federal government has once again brought up the 18th Amendment and portraying to be criminal.
PML-N leader and opposition leader in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq criticised the government’s decision to lift the lockdown. He said lifting the lockdown might be disastrous because the decision was taken without consulting medical experts.
He said the battle against the pandemic requires unity among all provinces but the PM is bent on dividing them instead. “The Centre is barring Sindh from working efficiently during the pandemic,” the PML-N leader said.
He was of the view that the non-cooperative attitude of the federal government has resulted in confusion for masses and left the provinces on their own. “One province imposes restriction for three days, another for two days and another changes the timing on the movement of the public. This has only caused confusion among the people.”