Interior minister slams ‘ineffective’ opposition, claims prime minister regrets allowing Nawaz Sharif to leave country
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Sunday assured Pakistani citizens that Prime Minister Imran Khan is personally working to ensure Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern states accept Chinese-manufactured coronavirus vaccines so that no one is prevented from traveling due to the inoculations being utilized in the country.
“[P.M.] has also told the cabinet that he is in touch with [Middle Eastern] countries concerned in this regard,” he told a press conference in Islamabad. “Sinopharm is a great vaccine and I salute China’s cooperation in this regard,” he said.
Last month, the Foreign Office said it had taken up the issue of Saudi Arabia denying entry to Pakistani Haj pilgrims if they had been inoculated with Chinese-manufactured vaccines. It said the Gulf kingdom had been asked to approve Chinese vaccines such as Sinopharm and Sinovac, adding that authorities had been informed that it was difficult for Pakistan to obtain vaccines from countries other than China.
Pakistanis wishing to travel abroad for work in Middle Eastern states have also, in recent weeks, protested against being inoculated with Chinese vaccines, stressing that their vaccinations would not be accepted in those countries.
Earlier this month, the federal government announced that it was prioritizing the use of the U.S.-manufactured Pfizer vaccine—of which Pakistan has thus far only received 100,000 doses for two shots—for Haj pilgrims and citizens with valid work permits or student visas.
During his press conference, Rashid also slammed the opposition, claiming it was completely “ineffective and useless.” Recalling that the same opposition parties had predicted the prime minister’s downfall by the end of last year, he said their failure was obvious in the incumbent government presenting its third budget later this month.
To a question, he said that the prime minister regretted allowing Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Nawaz Sharif to leave the country to seek medical treatment abroad. “Nawaz succeed in hoodwinking [government] and Imran Khan regrets that. But we stopped [PMLN President] Shahbaz Sharif [from traveling abroad],” he said of the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly being placed on the Exit Control List when he tried to go abroad for medical treatment last month.
To another question, the interior minister said he believed the “pressure group” of PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen in the Punjab and National assemblies would support the government during the upcoming budget session.
He also vowed to ensure that street crime was curbed in the federal capital, reiterating that the introduction of mobile Eagle Squads would aid in making Islamabad a “safe zone.”