Asad Umar, Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, criticised Shehbaz Sharif, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly and president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on Monday over holding Pakistan Democratic Movement rallies in the middle of the pandemic.
On Sunday, Sharif held the anti-government PDM rally in Swat. He referred to the rally as the revival of the PDM after Pakistan Peoples Party left the coalition.
Umar, who also heads the National Command and Operation Center which oversees Pakistan’s response to Covid-19, tweeted on Monday “Shehbaz Sharif in his NA speech lectured about amazing things he would have done to stop covid if he was in power.” He noted the irony of PDM’s rally on Sunday stating, “Least he can do is not do jalsas with thousands of people as he did in swat yesterday. Or is he only willing to do something positive for Pakistan if he is in power?”
Earlier in June, Sharif had addressed issues in the elected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf government’s policies and methods of governance during a National Assembly session. Sharif found shortcomings in PTI’s pandemic response stating that the government had not had a united front during the pandemic. He also said that the RS 1.2 trillion package that had been announced to tackle Covid-19 was not handled competently. “China and other countries gave us vaccines as gifts, but did we have to start (the vaccination campaign) with just gifts?”, he continued. According to Sharif, PTI’s policies have left Pakistan “at the mercy of others.”
He also critiqued PTI’s economic and developmental policies, stating that the government had not successfully kept all the promises it had made before getting elected.
Umar had responded during the same NA session and had addressed many of Sharif’s statements, including commenting on the issue of Covid-19 response. Umar said that Pakistan’s pandemic response was praised by bodies like the World Economic Forum and the World Health Organisation.
The PDM rally took place after the NCOC relaxed restrictions by reopening indoor dining, removing office restrictions, and dissolving lockdown measures. Pakistan’s numbers have reduced after the 3rd wave but with Eid approaching, there are concerns that it may rise. Earlier in June, Umar tweeted that according to artificial intelligence modelling, if SOPs are not enforced, the 4th wave could emerge in July.