In meeting, Pakistan’s prime minister reiterates claims that he will never give ‘NRO’ to opposition leaders
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday vowed that the government would not grant any permission for opposition-led public gatherings, saying this would violate guidelines against large public gatherings amidst the second wave of the novel coronavirus.
Addressing a meeting of government spokespersons and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders in Islamabad, he urged the united opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement to suspend their public meetings until the COVID-19 situation had once again been brought under control. “The government will strictly enforce standard operating procedures (SOPs) and bar the opposition from conducting rallies against health guidelines,” a participant of the meeting, who requested anonymity, quoted him as saying.
The prime minister also reiterated that the opposition would not get any “National Reconciliation Ordinance” from him regardless of how many rallies they organized. He claimed that the protests were solely designed to “protect the opposition’s looted wealth,” and claimed they were “anti-people.” He also claimed that the rallies would only hurt the public and the economy, not the government.
The PDM has thus far staged four rallies in Gujranwala, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar. Its next public gathering is scheduled for Nov. 30 (Monday) in Multan, which the district government has refused to grant it any permission for. The opposition, however, claimed the government is merely trying to protect itself by banning rallies, questioning how only political gatherings were spreading coronavirus based on a lack of restrictions in sectors such as public transport and government events. It has vowed mass protests if the Multan rally is now allowed to proceed.
Information Minister Shibli Faraz, separately, criticized the opposition for its “irresponsible behavior” in organizing public gatherings while the coronavirus was spreading nationwide. He reiterated the government’s call for the PDM not to “play with lives for personal gains,” and claimed the “small rallies” were proof the public had rejected the opposition’s narrative.
The prime minister also stressed to the spokespersons and party leaders that the matter of Pakistan recognizing Israel was out of the question until Palestine’s rights had been assured. He said this was in line with the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Khan also claimed the government’s decisions had decreased inflation, adding that steps were underway to reduce it further.