Planning minister lashes out at PDM for announcing rally in Karachi, blaming politicians for being worst violators of SOPs in past year
Planning Minister Asad Umar on Thursday described last month’s Pakistan-administered Kashmir general elections as a “super spreader event” for the coronavirus, noting that the region’s positivity ratio had been ranging between 25 and 30 percent since then.
“Had recommended that AJK elections get postponed for a couple of months and a special vaccination campaign run before the elections,” he said of the polls that occurred on July 25 and resulted in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf securing the most seats and forming the government. “It was not agreed,” he said of his recommendation from the forum of the National Command and Operation Center, which he also oversees.
“Since the elections, the positivity of AJK is running between 25 and 30%. Elections have acted as a super spreader event,” he added. Prior to the elections, the NCOC had reportedly sent a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, requesting for a delay to the polls due a visible increase in COVID-19 cases being reported from the region. The letter had warned that large political gatherings ahead of the polls could boost the spread of the virus.
The suggestions were, however, dismissed with both the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan Peoples Party saying it would be unconstitutional to delay the polls. On Thursday, Pakistan-administered Kashmir reported a positivity ratio of 29.5 percent; it also had 4 deaths caused by COVID-19, and currently has 4,870 active cases of the virus.
In a subsequent tweet, Umar also slammed the opposition for the Pakistan Democratic Movement announcing a rally in Karachi on Aug. 29. “Two weeks back, Bilawal [Bhutto]-Zardari was threatening to hold P.M. [Imran Khan] and ministers accountable if COVID spread further in Karachi and now PDM announces holding a jalsa this month in Karachi,” he wrote. “Sadly the worst violations of COVID SOPs in the last one year have come from politicians,” he added.
Separately, the NCOC announced it was once again reducing the maximum gap between two doses of COVID-19 vaccines from 42 to 28 days, with officials claiming this was because Islamabad had been assured of a new tranche of vaccines by vaccine alliance GAVI.