Pak opposition stages showdown in Peshawar amid COVID-19

New Age Desk | Published: 00:00, Nov 23,2020

 
 

Pakistan on Saturday witnessed an extensive war of words between the government and the opposition with Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan accusing the opposition of ‘playing reckless politics with people’s safety’ and Pak­istan Demo­cratic Move­ment (PDM) leaders vowing to go ahead with their planned power show in the ruling PTI’s stronghold of Peshawar on Sunday despite a ban imposed by the district administration, reports Dawn online.

Following the prime minister’s tweet in which he criticised the opposition parties for insisting on holding their public meeting in Peshawar amid reports of rising COVID-19 cases, a number of his cabinet members also took to Twitter to lambaste the opposition.

Federal minister for information Shibli Faraz warned that an FIR would be lodged against the opposition leaders and organisers of the Peshawar rally if COVID-19 cases rose in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

On the other hand, the opposition termed the government more dangerous than the pandemic and PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the government was making desperate attempts to foil Pesh­awar’s rally on the pretext of COVID-19, but the people of KP could not be deterred through such tactics.

PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Sunday declared that the incumbent government will ‘have to go home by January’ and called upon the masses to hold the rulers as well as their ‘selectors’ accountable.

While addressing a rally in Peshawar arranged by the PDM, Bilawal lamented that the erstwhile Fata was still deprived of its rights as the government was not releasing adequate funds for its development. He said that the people who had been displaced due to terrorism and military operations against militants had still not been rehabilitated. Residents whose family members had been killed by terrorists or whose houses and shops had suffered damages had not been compensated either, the PPP chief said.

Bilawal told the crowd that his party had struggled for Fata’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for a long time and his mother, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto had even gone to court.

‘Today, Fata has been merged with KP on paper but its people are not being given their rights. Even now areas in erstwhile Fata are off-limits. There are still legal blackholes, there are still internment centres. Late Peshawar High Court chief justice Waqar Seth had ruled that internment centres should be handed over to the police but sadly we never saw that happen,’ he said.

The lawmaker further said the province, despite producing a sizeable share of crude oil that was distributed across the country, was not receiving royalties. He noted that the province also produced gas and hydel power that exceeded KP’s requirements, yet it was not being paid its fair share.

Bilawal also addressed criticism over PDM’s decision to hold the rally despite increasing Covid-19 cases, saying that the government ‘only remembers COVID when they want to stop our rallies and your protest’.

Soon after the rally wrapped up, information minister Shibli Faraz released a video message in which he paid tribute KP public for ‘boycotting’ the PDM gathering.

‘Not only did they (public) keep themselves safe from corona on the prime minister’s appeal, they also turned PDM’s anti-public agenda into a failure,’ he said and condemned the opposition alliance for insisting on holding a public meeting despite rising Covid-19 cases as well as a court order.

He urged participants of the rally to quarantine themselves in order to keep others safe.

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