As the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter Pakistan, the federal government on Tuesday asked the Sindh government to improve its COVID-19 response and increase vaccinations.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, in a post-cabinet press conference in Islamabad, said: “The vaccination rate is the lowest in Karachi and Hyderabad.”
“Sindh government needs to look into the mirror first (before any criticism it levels against the Centre),” he said.
Fawad said Sindh is lagging behind all provinces and the Centre has repeatedly asked the province to improve its governance. “Sindh is an important province, as it has a huge population.”
The federal minister’s comments come after a chaotic situation was witnessed at vaccination centres across Karachi as people rushed to get inoculated following warnings of SIM blockage.
Speaking about PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif’s recent interview, the federal minister said the suggestion by the leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly to bury the hatchet and move forward was a welcome statement.
“The government is ready to hold talks with the Opposition in the Parliament, but not with its leadership which is outside the Parliament,” Fawad said.
However, he ruled out any date for such a meeting between Shahbaz and Prime Minister Imran Khan in the near future.
The information minister said the federal government was not interested in speaking to unelected party leaders, including PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
“Maryam, Nawaz, Fazl, and others do not want the system to move forward,” he said, adding that party leaders who are “fugitives” and reside outside the country had “no right” to lead their parties in Pakistan.
Speaking about other important issues, the federal minister said 23 more Pakistani prisoners had returned to the country from Saudi Arabia, which was made possible through personal efforts by PM Imran Khan.
The prime minister has clearly told Pakistani envoys — counsellor generals or ambassadors — that they should think of overseas Pakistanis as their family.
“We have already brought back hundreds of Pakistanis imprisoned abroad who were incarcerated for minor crimes,” he said, adding that the government was working on repatriating more prisoners.
On the Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections, he said the polls were held under the region’s prime minister’s supervision, adding that PML-N suffered a humiliating defeat and later claimed the elections were rigged.
“How will democracy move forward when the losing party claims rigging,” he said, reiterating that the government and Opposition need to be on the same page on several important matters.