ISLAMABAD - The ruling Pakistan Taehreek-e-Insaf has blamed the opposition for “politicising” the rising cases of deadly coronavirus in the country inviting all political parties to jointly fight against a common enemy.

The two major opposition parties—the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)—have been continuously criticising the federal government over its alleged slow response to the threat of novel coronavirus. Smaller opposition parties have also levelled similar allegations against Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government.

The senior leaders of PTI have rejected the accusations saying that the opposition was only doing point-scoring on a disease that has badly affected the whole world including the developed countries and the affected cases are on the rise with each passing day. On Wednesday, the tally of confirmed coronavirus cases reached 247 in Pakistan.

“The need of the hour is that we have to fight against our common enemy—the COVID-19,” said Ahmad Jawad, Central Secretary Information PTI while talking to The Nation. He said that they needed to form a join strategy to eliminate this enemy; otherwise all segments of society; the common people, the government, the opposition and the media would be equally vulnerable to it. “The disease will not discriminate anyone,” he said.

“To fight for this common enemy, we need to shut down politics for some period of time,” secretary information of the ruling party said adding that the opposition should avoid doing politics on it.  Refuting the allegations of opposition, Jawad said that their response was quick and they were taking all necessary measures carefully keeping in view the developments on a daily basis. The government is taking tough decisions with its limited resources. He said that all countries that were affected by coronavirus have taken measures step-by-step. Such decisions have to be taken very carefully because these largely impact the businesses, the trade, and food supplies and the panic situation among public arises.

“In extraordinary situation, your all actions don’t look compatible and perhaps the opposition is criticising the government because of the same reason,” said secretary information.

The opposition parties have alleged that the federal government had failed to control the border along Iran and have described this failure as the main reason for the spread of the disease in the country.

PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the other day, said in a news conference that a large number of people had fled from the quarantine camps due to inadequate measures taken by the government at the Taftan border area.

PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan in an interview to The Nation regretted that the opposition parties were doing politics on the deadly disease. “To tackle the coronavirus is a technical issue and Prime Minister Imran Khan himself is overseeing all necessary actions taken by the government to prevent its possible outbreak,” he said. He said that the better management and screening at borders could only save the country from major outbreak of the virus.

“We pre-empted the crisis,” said Senator Faisal, a close aide to PM Imran Khan.  He added that it was the reason that confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in Pakistan late as compared to the other parts of the world. “The opposition instead of doing point-scoring should help the government to deal with the grave tragedy the human being are facing,” he advised the opposition lawmakers.

The parliamentary leader of PPP in Senate Ms Sherry Rehman earlier in a statement had said that Sindh government, where her party is in government, had only given timely response. It was alarming that other provinces were “slow to test and take the crisis less seriously than they should.”

Senator Sherry had questioned the screening procedures being done at international borders and said, “The quarantine facility at the Taftan border has badly exposed the quality of emergency responses, where exposed pilgrims from Iran were clustered together in squalid conditions which bred high transfers of the virus.”

She had also sought from the government to provide data on the pilgrims who returned from Iran through Taftan and went back to KP, Balochistan and Punjab.