Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday criticized the partial coronavirus lockdown imposed by the Sindh government against the federal government’s wishes, explaining that doing so would break the rear of the commoner.
He expressed his views on the difficulty while conversing with the people of Pakistan during a live question-and-answer session via telephone.
The premier began the session by thanking the people of Pakistan for cooperating with the govt over the primary three waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, and urged them to again adhere to the SOPs to curb the spread of the continued fourth wave.
He then addressed the govt of Sindh’s decision to impose a partial lockdown to curb rising Covid-19 cases, saying it hadn’t taken into consideration the hardships of the poor.
“We had alittle problem between the federal and Sindh,” the PM admitted. “Sindh government wanted to impose a lockdown, which is that the correct decision and can curb the spread of virus.
“But on the opposite hand, the thing to ascertain is which will we be ready to save the economy from the lockdown? Then there’s the difficulty of hunger … the daily wage earners and particularly the poor section of our society … how will they create ends meet during the lockdown?”
The prime minister cited the instance of “destruction in India” to inform Sindh government “never to impose a lockdown until you’ve got the answers to those questions.”
“Their (Indian) government imposed a lockdown directly stupidly anything of the general public . They only thought of the upper crust and elite like us,” the PM said. “Sindh government should know that once you force a lockdown you’re getting to keep people hungry. you can’t keep hungry people under a lockdown if you are doing not have the resources to bring them food.”
PM Imran said that the policy of smart lockdowns and mass vaccinations was the thanks to go, as he stressed that the economy that has “survived very difficult times and is headed on an upwards trajectory” shouldn’t be hurt at any cost.
‘Free media may be a blessing’
The first caller was a lady who told the PM that she was defrauded by a person for Rs6 million over 10 years ago, and complained that the authorities had arrested the suspect and a case filed but no recovery was ever made. To this, the prime minister instructed that her details be taken assured that full efforts would be made to help her.
Another from a minority community involved a quota in jobs to be provided. The prime minister told her he would instruct the provinces for such quotas.
During the session, a broadcaster also called and told the prime minister that he wanted to verify if the QnA session was indeed genuine and live. At this, Prime Minister Imran replied that only those rulers that “break the law or believe the rule of power instead of the rule of law or are corrupt are scared of free media”.
“A free media [and]freedom of expression may be a great blessing for a rustic ,” he said, adding that it had been the role of media to act as a “watchdog”.
He explained he only disagreed with the media when “fake news and propaganda” was spread, pertaining to the revelations within the EU DisinfoLab report that uncovered an Indian disinformation network against Pakistan.
“Journalists from Pakistan are feeding fake Indian accounts that do propaganda against the Pakistan Army and prime minister. I only have a drag then [otherwise]real journalism and criticism may be a big blessing for a rustic .”
The prime minister was then relayed more personal problems by two retired soldiers and a farmer. He assured all of them that help would be provided to them.
‘No one being saved in Noor murder case’
Answering an issue by a lady about the grisly murder of Noor Mukadam in Islamabad and what steps the govt would deem women’s safety, Prime Minister Imran said he had been following the Noor murder case from the primary day and termed it a “horrifying” incident.
Citing details provided to him, the premier said the “tragedy” had occurred over the course of two days ahead of the entire domestic staff of the alleged killer, Zahir Jaffer.
He denied the impression that the suspect would be saved because he belonged to a strong family. “I want to inform you that nobody is being saved during this . albeit he thinks he’s a dual national and has American citizenship so he will escape , that’s not the case,” he said.
The prime minister noted that the case had “shocked everyone”, saying everyone had been pained by it and it had had “a big impact”.
“Noor’s murder may be a big tragedy and that i want to reassure [the nation]that nobody , regardless of how powerful they’re , will escape full punishment within the case.”
Recalling the alleged brief abduction of the Afghan ambassador’s daughter in Islamabad, the premier said he had followed the case “as if she was my very own daughter”.
“Afghans are our own people, we consider them brothers so we saw the [incident] within the same manner,” he said, crediting the capital police for following “every single thing” within the case and interviewing the suspects after identifying them through CCTV footage.
Talking about urban and civic issues, Prime Minister Imran said a serious problem afflicting Pakistani cities was that their master plans had not been made, while people who were made were “destroyed”.
He gave the instance of Islamabad, saying its plan was repeatedly violated despite it being the sole planned city within the country. “No one saw where water would come from and where the trash would go,” he said, adding that this was why he had ordered that city masterplans be made.
“This means a city won’t grow beyond a particular extent; rather than that, it’ll go up,” the premier said. “Dubai has gone vertical then has ny , if they started expanding then they might never be ready to provide water, electricity and amenities.”
Referring to the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project that the govt plans to launch, Imran said a replacement city are going to be built to save lots of the water of Ravi, which he said had became “a dirty nullah”.
“Similarly we had thought of Bundal Island in Karachi but unfortunately the Sindh government isn’t letting us make it and that i dont understand that because all the benefit [of the project]is to Sindh,” he added.
Restrictions on Pakistani flights
During the session, the prime minister received a call from a lady who said she was a Saudi iqama (residence permit) holder but was stuck in Pakistan since last year thanks to the suspension of flights to the dominion . She urged the premier to require up the difficulty with Saudi Arabia thanks to his “personal relations” with the country.
Prime Minister Imran responded that he was “fully aware” of the difficulty and had taken it up with the Saudi secretary of state during his recent visit to Pakistan. He said he had sent a message to prince Mohammed bin Salman that “many of our people are being affected so [try and find solutions]to whatever their problems are.”
“He (Saudi FM) assured me that he would solve our problem when he returns,” the premier said.
Similarly, another caller relayed difficulties faced by Pakistanis in Scandinavian countries thanks to flights of Pakistan International Airlines not being allowed to land in Denmark and Norway. The prime minister said the difficulty of pilots’ licences was on the brink of being resolved.
“We hope that we’ll again get permission for flights [to Europe] and that i know this is often a drag for overseas Pakistanis,” he added.
Rigging in AJK election
Answering an issue regarding the opposition’s claims of rigging within the recent Azad Jammu and Kashmir general elections and PP-38 Sialkot by-election, the prime minister disputed the allegations.
He questioned how rigging could occur when the local administration and government both belonged to the PML-N, which he said also had the powers to form appointments to the committee and designate police duty for polling day .
“Rigging can’t happen unless the committee colludes with you,” the premier emphasised.
He said electronic voting machines (EVMs) were the sole solution to resolve the difficulty of post-election rigging claims, adding that the govt was fully that specialize in them. He recalled that the Ministry of Science and Technology had developed a prototype and shown it to the media.
The government hoped that EVMs would be used for media and bar elections, Prime Minister Imran said. “Then the state will understand there’s just one thanks to solve the issues of rigging.”
Answering an issue regarding the timeline of giving overseas Pakistanis the proper to vote, the premier said considerable progress had been achieved with EVMs and only the committee of Pakistan remained to be convinced on their use.
He said it had been the government’s effort to incorporate the nine million overseas Pakistanis within the voting process through modern technology like e-voting. “If not e-voting then we definitely need to do postal ballot and incl