Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz in his first press conference since taking charge of the ministry said that Sindh was thrusting it incompetence upon the Centre.
He said the federal and Sindh governments are evolving consensus regarding the coronavirus-related situation. He assured that the government will take all the federating units onboard to address the situation arising out of coronavirus.
Addressing a news conference here Friday, he said the nation is faced with an unprecedented challenge in the form of COVID-19 and a collective response is required to meet it.
“The government has envisioned the concept of smart lockdown to protect the daily wagers and labourers from the impact of coronavirus,” said the minister. He warned that the country cannot afford a complete lockdown due to the economic situation.
About the Labour Day, the minister shared that the incumbent government is the first one to take practical steps for labourers in the form of Panagahs and Sehat cards for the well-being and protection of the workers.
“It is owing to the empathy of Prime Minister Imran Khan for the workers and labourers that a mega Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme was launched in the wake of coronavirus under which Rs12,000 are being disbursed amongst them,” said Shibli Faraz.
The minister pointed out that industries such as construction have also been reopened to provide opportunities to the workers to earn a livelihood. The minister, when asked about the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir, said that the government has effectively highlighted the lingering dispute at the world forums including the United Nations.
The minister emphasised that Pakistan was mired in debt and if opted for complete lockdown, the supply chain would not be complete and the daily business would come to a halt, which would have affected the weak segments the most. The government, he noted, had a clear stance the issue relating to the virus was a national issue and no province alone or the federal government could address it on its own.
He continued that the government of Sindh had also now realised that the total lockdown was not possible while other countries, including the United States, had also understood it despite having resources in abundance.
Replying to questions, he said that the government was making its efforts for the holding of the Parliament session and consultations with the opposition for finalisation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for summoning the session were in advanced stage.
He said that the government wanted that the session of the houses of the parliament should be held, but in the given situation, when Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser had been diagnosed with coronavirus, it was vital to adopt precautionary measures accordingly.
The minister contended that it was important to call the session of the Parliament, as certain bills were nearing lapse and their approval was necessary from the legislature. About the role of the opposition, he said that the opposition was part and parcel of the political system and the government welcomed its role of constructive criticism, which proved helpful in improving governance and transparency.
The opposition, he continued, should play its role within the realm of democratic norms and values. About press freedom, he said that the government supported media freedom, but Pakistan was an evolving country and could not be compared with other countries in many things. He also said there should be freedom with responsibility and tension in the society or triggering sensationalism cannot be allowed in garb of media freedom.
The minister said a policy was being formulated for the betterment of media workers and payment of outstanding dues to media houses were being done on war footing, ensuring that payments for one section of media did not land in any other’s hand. He said under the policy, it would also be ensured that payment of outstanding salaries of media workers should be paid by the management of media houses and meetings had already been held and more were due.
The minister said that his ministry’s job was not only to project the government policies but also to provide bridge between the government and the media.
To a question, he said that it was the prime minister’s prerogative to change team members keeping in view the situation and interests of the country. He also expressed his commitment to transform the ministry as per the modern requirements. He said the ministry’s plan is to enhance its outreach to the protection of the national interests and image of the country.
Meanwhile, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan has said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is jealous of good performance of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the federal government and that is why he is issuing illogical and meaningless statements.
Giving reaction over Pakistan People’s Party chairman’s press conference here Friday, he said Bilawal’s criticism of the premier and the federal government’s relief activities for the coronavirus-hit people of the country could be portrayed through the proverb ‘Naach na janay aangan tehra’ (A bad workman blames his tools).
The provincial information minister said “Bilawal comes out of his self-imposed seclusion every week only to criticise the federal government, and he goes back to his hiding”. He said everyone knew it well that most of the funds under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme had been distributed among lockdown affected people in Sindh.
Chohan said that the biggest and non-political package in the history of Pakistan was currently under way under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The minister urged Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to focus his attention on improving poor governance and providing relief to the virus affected people of Sindh. He regretted that the Sindh government provided its people with 13-year-old, expired and the worst quality food items.