ISLAMABAD - The PTI’s government in yesterday’s National Assembly session came under severe criticism for allegedly mishandling the Corona crisis in different parts of country with its ‘confused and directionless strategy’.

The government lawmakers, however, claim that government was dealing with the negative impacts of novel coronavirus in a good manner. The difference of opinion on lockdown policy among provinces, non-provision of medical kits to provinces, testing capacity of coronavirus, unsatisfactory measures at quarantine centres and hospitals were the main issues debated among the lawmakers. The house also witnessed rumpus and sloganeering during the speeches of lawmakers.

PML-N’s senior leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, taking part in debate, criticised the government’s lockdown policy.”Is there any cabinet decision about imposing smart lockdown,” he posed a question. He said that the government had not shown any mature policy to deal with the virus. “This government is confused. Its actions clearly reflect incompetence,” he said and suggested to adopt strict policy on people for at least wearing mask. He claimed the government did not have a strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have seen all government websites but could not find the government’s strategy to deal with expected crisis,” he said. Abbasi asked from government to share its testing protocol. “What is the testing protocol of government? Who should be allowed for test as even people are getting tested for fun,” he commented. Former prime minister called for a unified national strategy to deal with the global challenge. He asked the government to provide details of the money spent on medical equipment. He also criticised government for mishandling Taftan issue. “There is a need of parliamentary committee to sort out issues related to coronavirus,” he suggested.

Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, on his turn, asked government to share practicable suggestion to win war against novel challenge. “The opposition has only focused on raising objections as no practical suggestion was shared,” he said mentioning that the government had shut down marriage halls, transport, schools as it believed complete lockdown will have a devastating effect on daily wagers and low-income people. “In this crisis situation, the government is also taking care of poor people?” he said.

About opposition’s claim of planning to change 18th Amendment, he said the 18th Amendment was a law. “There is always room for improvement,” he argued.

Minister said the government had included provinces in all decision making, inviting them to be a part of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) and National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) meetings. “This is the [Centre’s] level of coordination.”

PPP-P’s senior leader/ Former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, taking part in debate, said that it was responsibility of prime minister to unite the nation. “There is a need to deal with challenge with unity,” he said, mentioning that his party’s chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had ‘voluntarily’ announced to extend support to the government in this time of crisis. “Federal government is indecisive to deal with challenge. We are ready to cooperate with government to save lives and protect people of the country,” he said and faced heated remarks from MQM-P members.

The house witnessed uproar, as members from MQM-P and PPP-P exchanged hot words. The timely intervention of chair worked to calm down the situation. Former prime minister criticised government for not taking parliament into confidence on important matters.