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.
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.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 29, 2020
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.