ISLAMABAD                 -             Taunts, sloganeering and exchange of heated remarks between government and opposition on matters other than COVID-19 dominated in Friday’s national assembly session, which was specially called to debate negative impact of corona virus in the country.

Most of the lawmakers from both sides of aisle were seen settling old scores in their speeches. The house witnessed verbal brawls on the matters related to NAB activities, lock-down and ambiguity on testing capacity of government’s institutions. Some of the important suggestions including relaxation of lockdown, opening mosques, increasing awareness campaigns about social distancing and removing misconception to kill the dangerous virus merely by gargling were propounded by the members from opposition benches. The matter related to amendments in 18th amendments also remained the focal point of most of the MNAs in their speeches on situation arising out of Coronavirus in the country. About coronavirus, one senior member from opposition also did not hesitate to term it a man-made disease.

Concluding the debate ning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said that the number of coronavirus cases in the country might continue to rise but precautionary measures would help keeping the situation under control. He was optimistic that the dangerous disease in Pakistan would not spread fast enough to collapse country’s healthcare system.

About smart lockdown policy, he argued if a lockdown could have ended the virus, it would have been proven by at least one country. “The countries that had imposed strict lockdowns to avoid the spread of virus did not observe much difference soon after relaxing the lockdown,” he said, mentioning that the disease will end only on the invention of a vaccine .

PTIs senior MNA also lauded Prime Minister Imran Khan’s policy about lockdown in the country. “Other countries are also adopting the same policy which Prime Minister Imran Khan had foreseen around two months ago,’’ he said. Minister claimed that the country had pandemic experts, artificial intelligence specialists and data scientists on board and the government made decisions after consulting them. He informed the National Disaster Management Authority made arrangements to procure 1,000 ventilators. We have also started two training programmes for healthcare professionals.

Taking part in debate, PML-N’s senior MNA Riaz Pirzada said that there should be no ban in mosques. “People should be allowed to offer prayers in mosque,” he said, and remarked that the Coronavirus could be a man-made disease. He said the government should not hesitate to summon session of parliament.

Another senior member from PML-N Ahsan Iqbal came down hard on government for not “sharing a copy of policy to deal with coronavirus”.

PPP-P’s MNA Shazia Marri asked government not to downplay the dangerous virus. She said that there was a need to dispel “myths” , as gurgling warm water would not kill the novel coronavirus. “Only social distancing , wearing masks and other precautionary measures will prove effective,” she said.

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