'Vaccination lowest in Karachi, Hyderabad': Centre asks Sindh to improve COVID-19 response

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry addressing a post-cabinet press conference in Islamabad, on August 3, 2021. — PID

'Vaccination lowest in Karachi, Hyderabad': Centre asks Sindh to improve COVID-19 response

The federal government on Tuesday asked the Sindh government to improve its response to coronavirus and ramp up vaccination as the fourth wave of the pandemic intensifies and infections continue to spread.

The vaccination count is the "lowest in Karachi and Hyderabad," Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said in a post-cabinet press conference in Islamabad.

"Sindh government needs to look into the mirror first," he said, reiterating that the federal government can only ask federating units to improve their governance.

Fawad said Sindh is lagging behind all provinces and the Centre has repeatedly asked the province to improve its governance. "Sindh is an important province, as it has a huge population."

The federal minister's comments come after a chaotic situation was witnessed at vaccination centres across Karachi as people rushed to get inoculated following warnings of SIM blockage.Speaking about PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif's , the federal minister said the leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly's suggestion to bury the hatchet and move forward was a welcoming statement.

"The government is ready to hold talks with the Opposition in the Parliament, but not with its leadership which is outside the Parliament," Fawad said.

However, he ruled out Shahbaz's meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the near future.

The information minister said the federal government was not interested in speaking to unelected party leaders, including PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

"Maryam, Nawaz, Fazl, and others do not want the system to move forward," he said, adding party leaders who are "fugitives" and reside outside the country had no right to lead their parties in Pakistan.

Speaking about other important issues, the federal minister said 23 more Pakistani prisoners had returned to the country from Saudi Arabia, which was through the personal efforts of PM Imran Khan.

The prime minister has clearly told Pakistani envoys — counsellor general or ambassador — abroad that they should think of overseas Pakistanis as their family.

"We have already brought back hundreds of Pakistanis imprisoned abroad who were incarcerated for minor crimes," he said, adding the government was working on repatriating more prisoners.

On the Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections, he said the polls were held under the region's prime minister's supervision, adding that PML-N suffered a humiliating defeat and later claimed the elections were rigged.

"How will democracy move forward when the losing party claims of rigging," he said, reiterating that the government and Opposition need to be on the same page on several important matters.

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