Sounding the alarm on the rising number of novel coronavirus cases, the provincial government on Saturday warned the opposition alliance that they may lodge cases against them if a spike in virus cases is witnessed in the province after the rally.
The warning was conveyed by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra and Special Assistant to K-P chief minister on Information Kamran Bangash on Saturday as they called upon the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to cancel their public rally scheduled for today (Sunday) in Peshawar.
Addressing a joint news conference in the provincial capital on Saturday, Jhagra declared that if it was about who could draw a bigger crowd, then, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) can organise a bigger power show than the alliance of opposition parties.
However, with a second wave of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) firmly gripping the country and the National Command Operation Center (NCOC) imposing a ban on large public gatherings, Jhagra insisted that it was in the larger public interest not to hold such gatherings to avoid the virus from spreading.
He reminded that the province is witnessing an alarming rise in Covid-19 infections with another 317 more cases confirmed in just the past 24 hours, a 12 per cent increase day-on-day.
The PDM wants to hold a public rally in Peshawar but the government has a responsibility to protect the people from the pandemic, Jhagra said.
The health minister also rejected the PDM’s claim about the hurdles are being created by the provincial government in staging the rally. He asserted that the government is not under any pressure because the opposition is not capable of creating any trouble for the incumbent government.
Coronavirus cases could escalate if they do not follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
The local administration of Peshawar on Friday refused the PDM application to hold rally in the provincial capital citing exponential rise in Covid-19 cases.
The PDM, the 11-party opposition alliance against the PTI-led government, had announced to hold public gathering in various cities including in Peshawar on Sunday (today).
The deputy commissioner in a statement had said Covid-19 positivity rate has exceeded 13 per cent in Peshawar district which is “alarmingly high”.
Any large public gathering is likely to increase the spread of deadly virus, it added.
The official statement further read that in order to protect the human lives in view of aforementioned factors, the permission cannot be granted.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2020.