Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal Zardari and Fazl-ur Rahman attend an anti-government rally in Peshawar. File / AFP
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Prime Minister Imran Khan has categorically announced that the government would not give permission to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to hold its public rally in Multan and other cities.
"The coronavirus is spreading dangerously, therefore the opposition should postpone PDM public meetings,” Imran said while talking to his spokespersons.
Quoting the prime minister, a participant of the meeting said the government will strictly enforce standard operating procedures (SOPs) and not allow the opposition to hold rallies as the health guidelines did not permit large gatherings.
Some of the spokespersons suggested that those attending public meetings be sent behind bars.
Criticising the opposition, the prime minister reiterated that he would not give any National Reconciliation Ordinance-like concession to the opposition leaders no matter how many rallies they staged.
The PDM has so far held four public meetings against the government in Gujranwala, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar while two are scheduled for Nov.30 and Dec.13 in Multan and Lahore, respectively.
Some spokesmen suggested that the opposition should be allowed to hold its public rallies while others opposed it vehemently. However, the prime minister said the opposition was not bothered about the lives of the people and added that the COVID-19 is spreading and the health system was being overwhelmed.
Severe confrontation has built up between the Punjab government and multiparty opposition alliance, over holding a protest public meeting in Multan by the latter on Monday with the former resolved to block it with force.
Containers have been placed around the venue, Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh, and police deployed outside, while the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) announced that Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, sister of its chairman Bilawal, will attend the event as he has isolated himself for being infected by COVID-19.
The police and district administration have placed dozens of containers around the stadium and more are being brought in to block roads leading to Multan.
Police said more than 200 workers of PDM constituent parties have been arrested and raids are being conducted to arrest more.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz held a luncheon meeting with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Sunday with the consent and blessings of her father,
"We are suspending international flight operations effective tonight at 8:00 pm (1500 GMT)," the prime minister's special assistant on national security.
The protest campaign comes at a time when Pakistan is experiencing an economic crisis, with inflation touching double digits and negative growth. The next general election is scheduled for 2023.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday defended his government's response to the coronavirus crisis, saying there has been no confusion or contradiction in his policies since the start of the pandemic.
It was Mount Merapi’s biggest lava flow since authorities raised its danger level in November, said Hanik Humaida, the head of Yogyakarta’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center.
Gates, a billionaire who stepped down as chairman of Microsoft Corp in 2014, has through his philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed at least $1.75 billion to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes support for some makers of vaccines,
The daily number of new coronavirus infections in France stayed above 20,000 on average for the fourth straight day on Tuesday, while hospitalisations reached an eight-week high of 27,041.
Japan this month issued a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas to tame a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. The measure includes a request for restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m. although there are currently no penalties for non-compliance.