LAHORE - Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has accused the government of fighting the opposition and the media instead of making concerted efforts to fight against coronavirus.

Addressing senior PML-N leaders through video link on Monday, he demanded restoring local governments instead of staging a political theatre in form of tiger force. Raja Zafarul Haq, Kh Muhammad Asif, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Tanveer, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Kh Saad Rafiq, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, Rana Sanaullah, Amir Muqam, Attaullah Tarar, Marriyum Aurangzeb participated in the video-conference.

PML-N President said that the restoration of local government system would not cost anything and it would offer an effective system at the local level to combat coronavirus in the grassroots level. “The government should not waste precious time and public money on tiger force at this critical time,” he added.

He suggested to form a parliamentary committee to oversee the Corona Relief Fund to ensure its spending in a most judicious and expeditious manner. He advocated that this parliamentary committee should take stock of the foreign aid and its utilization, saying that the government was using the foreign aid and assistance to serve its political interests.

He also urged the Speaker National Assembly to immediately convene meeting of Standing Committee on Health to discuss challenges arising due to coronavirus pandemic in the country.

He demanded to conduct free tests for coronavirus in public sector hospitals and expand its canvass across the country. “Had the government cared to act upon our sincere suggestions, it would’ve been able to control the situation,” he commented.

Shahbaz Sharif demanded immediate restoration of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), and pointed out that Prime Minister and Minister for Health Imran Khan was committing contempt of court by not restoring the supreme governing body of medical profession in the country. At a time when it was most needed to monitor the healthcare facilities and services in COVID-19 crisis, he said, Imran had suspended the supreme regulator institution. “No doctors can be registered in the absence of PMDC, when it was most needed to register doctors to combat the challenge of coronavirus in the country,” he said, adding that Imran Niazi had failed on the health front and turned into a “Minister for Spread of Coronavirus”.

He said that Prime Minister’s Taskforce on Health cannot be a replacement of PMDC, and urged Justice Shakirullah to immediately assume the charge of PMDC and resume healthcare services in these hard times when it was most needed in the best interest of the nation and the country.

He urged the government ensure provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to the doctors and medical staff as protection of their lives was tantamount to saving the life of the nation. He said the government had merely made announcements for daily wagers and labourers and hadn’t done anything concrete to support their livelihood. He also demanded to take measures to provide relief to the small, medium and large-scale industrialists.

He said that, at party level, PML-N had started a national volunteer program to spread awareness against coronavirus and provide economic relief to the poor and most vulnerable segments.

He said that the party had presented a “Charter of Demands” before the federal government, proposed to launch an awareness campaign in the media and also gave suggestions for swift and effective testing, screening and treatment for coronavirus in Punjab. But sadly, he said, all suggestions fell on deaf ears and were trashed due to the obstinacy of the federal government.