PDM pakistan opposition rally Karachi
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has warned of serious consequences in case the protest rally leads to spread of coronavirus. Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: Though it is cold in Pakistan, the political temperature is on the rise with the date of the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) Multan rally drawing closer.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has warned of serious consequences in case the protest rally leads to spread of coronavirus.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s special assistant and media spokesperson of the Punjab government Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has made it clear the vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and daughter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz will have to answer if coronavirus spreads as result of Monday’s Multan rally.

In a tweet, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said, “The thieves’ gang is responsible for spreading coronavirus in the country. Fearing their theft will be exposed they are now playing with the lives of the people through negative politics.”

After the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto testing positive for coronavirus, the party has nominated his sister and the youngest daughter of the assassinated leader of the party former premiere Benazir Bhutto, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari to attend the event and represent her brother.

Since this is going to be the first public appearance of Aseefa Bhutto as speaker, the PPP workers and office-bearers of the southern Punjab are making desperate efforts to make the Multan show a big success. Multan being the most populated city in the entire south Punjab is considered stronghold of the party and the party’s local leaders and workers of the adjacent cities DG Khan, Bahawalpur, Vehari, Bhakkar, Layyah , Sahiwal and Lodhran have been directed to ensure maximum participation in the rally.

Roads blocked

Meanwhile, with an aim to stop the PDM from holding its public gathering scheduled for Nov 30, the police and the district administration of Multan have placed containers around the venue—Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh—and police have been deployed outside. Besides, the rally venue has also been inundated with water, it is further learnt.

The police have arrested more than 200 workers of PDM constituent parties and raids are being conducted to arrest more. The lists of workers, particularly from the PPP and PML-N, have been provided to respective police stations.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who is in quarantine has condemned arrests of the party workers and leaders saying the fascist regime is out to harass the workers of the PPP.

Prime Minister Imran Khan last week had cautioned that the government would be compelled to enforce complete lockdown if the opposition did not desist from holding public gatherings at a time when the country was battling COVID-19.

Pakistan on Saturday reported 3,045 new cases of coronavirus in a period of twenty-four hours taking the tally of infections to 392,356 and 45 deaths making the toll 7,942. This is for the first time in recent days the country has reported more than 3,000 cases of coronavirus in one day.

According to the Ministry of National Health Services, amid the second wave of COVID-19, the government has increased the number of tests and more than 48,000 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours. The number of active cases has also jumped to an alarming figure of 46,821, according to the national health ministry’s portal.