Information minister says federal government will oppose any move that ‘adversely affects the livelihood of the common man’
Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Friday said the federal government is “reviewing” the Sindh government’s decision to impose a lockdown in the province to curb the spread of the coronavirus, adding that the center’s policy on the issue has been consistently clear.
On Friday, the Sindh government announced it was imposing a “partial” lockdown in the province, shuttering a majority of businesses—with essential services, food shops, medical stores and export-oriented industries exempted—and making proof of vaccination mandatory for anyone wishing to step outside their homes. In a press conference, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said it was a “tough” decision, but was necessary to ensure the province’s healthcare infrastructure did not become overburdened.
According to Radio Pakistan, Fawad said Sindh could not “unilaterally” impose a lockdown in the province, as the Supreme Court of Pakistan had already ruled that provinces could not implement such measures without consultation with the federal government. He said the option for “complete lockdown” was not available to any province, adding t that provinces were bound to implement the policies issued by the National Command and Operation Center, including “smart” lockdowns that target viral hotspots.
“The prime minister’s policy is clear on this. We will oppose any such move which adversely affects the livelihood of the common citizen,” he said. He claimed that if Sindh had implemented SOPs “effectively,” the situation in Karachi would not have become so dangerous.
Earlier, the NCOC also issued a statement saying it would take all possible measures to “assist” the Sindh government overcome the rising trend of COVID-19 in the province. “The measures being undertaken by the federal government include ramp-up of critical care capacity, including oxygenated beds and vents, availability of oxygen and deployment of LEAs [law enforcement agencies] for implementation of SOPs and NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions],” it added.
Sindh’s decision to implement a partial lockdown comes after a week of the province nearly half of all daily confirmed infections of COVID-19 in Pakistan. Capital Karachi has emerged as the epicenter of the fourth wave of the pandemic, reporting a daily positivity ratio in excess of 20 percent for nearly an entire week, leaving the city’s hospitals near maximum capacity.