Islamabad: Pakistan’s Minister for Climate Change, Zartaj Gul Wazir, has provided comic relief to a nation hassled with the coronavirus pandemic by offering a rather bizarre definition of COVID-19, saying in a TV interview that the virus has [as the name suggests] 19 points and it varies from region to region.
In the interview telecast on Saturday night, the minister tells the anchor on state television that COV-19 means it has 19 points and it is a type of flu that can affect a country in one of the 19 ways. Its severity depends upon the immunity level of people in the country concerned.
The video clip of the said interview has been uploaded thousands of times by netizens on social media making ‘@Zartajgul’ the top trend on Twitter https://twitter.com/qureshik74/status/1274403696395407360.
This is not the first time that Wazir has made such a naive statement on a sensitive issue.
Repeated faux pass
A couple of months ago, while speaking in the National Assembly, she had credited COVID-19 with “improving” the air quality of Islamabad, Karachi and other cities.
Last month, just days before Eid-al-Adha, Wazir surprised the nation when replying to a TV reporter’s question, she said that only those people who were infected with coronavirus should wear masks so that others could be saved from them!
However, this time, it seems netizens are in no mood to spare her for her ‘definition’ of COVID-19. As soon as this bizarre statement was aired, they took to Twitter and Facebook and started criticising the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader, saying that the minister did not even know what COVID-19 was.
A social media user, Aamra Shah, posted different video clips on her Twitter handle of ‘classical’ interviews and statements of Wazir in the past. In one of those clips, she is seen admiring Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “body language”, his “killer smile” and “beautiful language”.
In yet another post, Wazir was seen giving credit to the PTI government for excessive rains in the country, when in reality, the rains had devastated the country, destroying crops and causing huge loss of life and property.
According to angry netizens, the federal government has not done much to raise public awareness on coronavirus. “This can be judged from the interpretation of COVID-19 by a minister,” they said.
Mariana Babar, a senior Pakistan journalist, has also commented on Wazir’s hilarious definition of COVID-19, saying that the basic requirement for being in Imran Khan’s cabinet is to “leave brain home in microwave”. However, Babar described some ministers like Shireen Mazari and Fawad Chaudhry as “honourable exceptions”. https://twitter.com/MarianaBaabar/status/1274616582044557313
Wazir, in response to her critics, has struck back saying it was merely a slip of the tongue. “I appear on TV and reply to questions for hours without written help. I actually wanted to say COVID-19 has different effect on different countries. Instead of concentrating on my momentary mistakes, it would be better if they focus on their parties,” said Wazir on Twitter in response to critics who kept posting her interviews.