Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi hit out at the government and its “smart lockdown”, saying the Centre had no concrete plan to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
“The prime minister had said he would not impose a lockdown in the country because the poor and daily wagers would suffer as a result of it. He then said that the lockdown had been enforced by the elite. Who are these elite,” Abbasi asked, addressing the floor of the House on Wednesday.
“The day the prime minister said he would not enforce a lockdown, there was a curfew in front of his own house,” he said.
Abbasi continued, “Then a new word ‘smart lockdown was introduced. Where is the federal government’s decision about the lockdown? It was the provinces' decision to enforce lockdowns.”
The PML-N leader added that the public needs to know if there is a lockdown in the country or not. “The public needs to know the government’s strategy. Just today the government threatened again that if the public does not follow safety precautions, the lockdown will be enforced once again in the country.”
Hitting out at a minister he did not name, Abbasi said, “Today a fourth minister from the government came and addressed the House, but did not speak about their strategy at all. If this House is to run, the opposition needs to speak first and the government shall answer then. All we need to know is what the government has planned when it comes to dealing with the pandemic.”
“There is no need to be afraid of criticism,” Abbasi said, adding that the prime minister had so far addressed the nation 12 times but no strategy had been presented.
“In every address, the prime minister said there would be no lockdown, then he says there will be an ease in the lockdown. It seems like the prime minister and the ministers say one thing, but there is something completely different happening in the country,” Abbasi remarked.
“If the federal cabinet did not decide on the lockdown, where did the smart lockdown come from,” he wondered.
The former prime minister added that government websites were full of pictures of ministers but there was nothing about how they planned to deal with the pandemic.
“There is no plan and no lockdown in Pakistan. We have become a laughing stock in the world, everyone is laughing at the House because of this,” he added.
Criticising the prime minister, Abbasi questioned why he could not take an hour to sit with the opposition and come up with a comprehensive strategy.
The PML-N leader also questioned the establishment of the Tiger Force and the reason behind it. “What is the Tiger Force, what does it do and who is paying for it? Nothing has been told to us about it,” he said.
“They have no strategy, nothing at all. I appeal to the government to look at these matters and make a strategy. A special committee of this NA should have been made which should have monitored what was happening in the country. We can talk the entire day, but talking is not the point. I just want to say, if the ministers want to talk they need to tell us strategy regarding containment about the pandemic. The strategy should be a unified one, same for the entire country,” he added.