PM Khan slams opposition for mass rallies despite COVID-19 surge

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 19, 2020. (AP/File)
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Updated 29 November 2020

PM Khan slams opposition for mass rallies despite COVID-19 surge

  • Alliance of main opposition parties is going to hold an antigovernment protest in Multan on Monday despite a ban on political rallies
  • Opposition blames the government for inadequate coronavirus response and downplaying the danger in the beginning of the outbreak 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the opposition on Sunday of disregarding the lives and safety of people by organizing mass antigovernment protests when coronavirus cases are surging across the country.

The prime minister’s comment came as an antigovernment alliance of main opposition parties, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), is going to hold a protest in Multan on Monday, which is expected to draw thousands of followers despite a government ban on political rallies.

“When we did smart lockdown to save our poor from becoming destitute & save economy from total collapse, these “leaders” opposed & demanded complete lockdown. Now, with new spike, when we again need smart lockdown, they want jalsas not caring for the lives & safety of people,” Khan said in a series of tweets.

Pakistan has seen an uptick in coronavirus cases in the past few weeks as it has been hit by a second viral wave. Citing COVID-19 fears, the prime minister announced a ban on political rallies, on Nov. 16.

Defying the ban, the PDM held a mass gathering in Peshawar last week — the fourth since the movement was launched in late September to start a countrywide campaign to remove Khan’s government and hold early elections.

“Problem confronting us in Pak during COVID 19 is of a political leadership that has never gone through any democratic struggle, nor worked with ordinary citizens to understand the problems they confront, nor contributed in any substantive way for betterment of ordinary citizens,” the prime minister said in another Twitter post.

In response to the tweets, Murtaza Wahab, leader of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and spokesman of the government of Sindh province, told Arab News that it was Khan’s government itself that had jeopardized the country’s COVID-19 response.

“If you remember it was IK (Imran Khan) who said covid is nothing and just a flu, you don’t need to worry. Asad Umer said more people die in road accidents,” Wahab said, referring to the country’s finance minister.

“Our struggle against covid has gotten affected by such gimmicks of the federal government.”

According to official data, at least 43 people died and 2,829 more were infected with COVID-19 in Pakistan during the last 24 hours, bringing the total coronavirus tally to over 395,000, with nearly 8,000 related deaths.


Pakistani Twitter rejoices as archrival India beats Australia in cricket win for the ages

Updated 19 min 36 sec ago

Pakistani Twitter rejoices as archrival India beats Australia in cricket win for the ages

  • Pakistan and India are political foes and have one of the most intense sports rivalries in the world
  • Tuesday’s win by India was unequivocally cheered by Pakistani cricket fans who called it “one of the greatest test match wins of all time”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani social media users rejoiced on Tuesday as India bagged an incredible three-wicket win in the fourth test decider against Australia.

India’s Rishabh Pant timed his innings to perfection, ramping up the aggression in a stellar 89 as India stormed to a record 328-run chase at the Gabba and became the first team to beat the hosts at the Brisbane stronghold since the West Indies in 1988.

Pakistan and India are political archrivals and fierce opponents in the cricket field. But Tuesday’s win was unequivocally cheered by Pakistani cricket fans on Twitter, who called it one of “the greatest test series and test match wins of all time.”

“From 36 all out in the same series to winning it on Australia soil. Wow,” former cricketer and fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar wrote.

“Investing in your players, giving them financial security, protecting them, giving them exposure, having A team tours is eventually bound to pay off. Well done India,” said cricket manager Rehan ulHaq.

“India basically pulled off one of the greatest test series and test match wins of all time,” said Uzair Younus, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “To win Down Under [Australia] is an achievement on its own. But to do it when several first-team players are out injured is a whole new level of achievement. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.”

“Given results, their injuries, and lack thereof of the home side, this Indian team is probably the greatest from South Asia to tour Australia,” said Umair Javed, an assistant professor at LUMS, Pakistan’s most prestigious private university.

“Cricket is the winner (and Australia the loser),” Javed said in another tweet.

“What a fight back by Indian cricket team in the series, they’ve played quality cricket. From 36-all out in first test to 2-1 up. Commendable. Love and respect from Pakistan,” Twitter user Taliha said, posting one of thousands of tweets praising the Indian team’s performance.

“Tremendous cricket by Indians,” Haider Rasool wrote. “Love from Pakistan.”

One Indian Twitter user posted: “Thank you Pakistan. Today’s win is ever more special because of support from neighbor.”

Strained relations between the two nations, who were one country before the partition of British India split them into India and Pakistan in 1947, and a decades-long dispute over the Himalayan valley of Kashmir conflict, has laid the foundations of one of the most intense sports rivalries in the world.

Pakistan and Indian have not played a bilateral Test series since 2008 when already brittle ties were shattered by the Mumbai terror attacks.