ISLAMABAD                  -                  The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday expressed extreme displeasure over the poor performance of both the federal and Sindh governments in tackling the coronavirus pandemic, and directed the federal government to remove Dr Zafar Mirza as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services.

Last week, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed had taken the first suo motu notice of his tenure to oversee efforts taken by government authorities to combat coronavirus. Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed are also on the bench. 

The five-member bench, while hearing the case on Monday, said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet has become ineffective in the fight against the pandemic and expressed serious doubt over the eligibility and qualifications of Dr Zafar Mirza. 

Responding to the CJP’s comments regarding Dr Mirza, Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan said removing the Prime Minister’s advisor at this stage would be disastrous. He requested the bench to not change him at this time and urged the court to leave the matter of his removal up to the federal government. Despite strict remarks by the apex court regarding Dr Zafar Mirza, no written order was issued on his removal.  However, the detailed order is expected in the next few days.

Meanwhile, expressing disappointment over the government’s performance, the apex court observed that there is a lack of leadership at the top and a failure to maintain unity in the country.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed also raised questions over the high numbers of advisors and special assistants in the Cabinet. The CJP noted, without naming anyone, that allegedly corrupt individuals have been inducted in the Cabinet.

Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan said that such observations by the SC would “only cause harm”. To this, the CJP replied that he is very careful in passing such remarks. The CJP also wondered why a Parliament session was not being called in the prevailing situation. AGP assured the bench that he will convey the court’s concerns to the PM who is holding a high-level meeting on COVID-19 today (Monday). The court also took the Sindh government to task over the decision to cordon off 11 union councils, observing that there were no arrangements in place to provide the people with food and medicine.

The court directed the Sindh government to present a report regarding ration distribution in the province.

The bench has sought comprehensive reports from the federal and provincial governments regarding the steps taken to control COVID-19 and adjourned the hearing till next Monday

PM opens TeleSchool Channel

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday formally launched the TeleSchool Channel, a joint project of Pakistan Television Ltd and Ministry of Education.

Addressing the ceremony, he said the country is facing unprecedented situation in the wake of coronavirus and this initiative will help children get education who are staying at home due to closure of schools in the wake of coronavirus. He said this is a brilliant concept and it should continue even after the opening of schools as it will help children residing in rural areas learn.

The prime minister congratulated the ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and Pakistan Television for collaborating in launching of the channel saying, it was a revolution in the present situation as the whole world was heading toward distance education.

The prime minister said that there were complaints of below standard education in government schools in remote areas of the country and also referred to a number of such complaints in his home constituency Mianwali.

He said the TeleSchool channel was a productive opportunity for the parents and the step would also help out the large number of children who had been dropped out of schools. He said Pakistan was lagged behind in tele-education and tele-medicines and through this system and mobile phones adult education would also be promoted.

Minister of Education Shafqat Mahmood apprised the Prime Minister that twenty million children are out of school and even many adult literates are also not able to read and write beyond their names. He suggested utilizing mobile phones for education and learning as well.

Meanwhile, the channel will be available on satellite, terrestrial and cable. The educational channel will beam programs from 8 am to 5 pm every day and will deliver content from grades 1 to 12.