Sunday, April 26, 2020
By Matt Flegenheimer
The president has often said he is exceptionally smart. His recent suggestion about injecting disinfectants was not.
President Trump’s self-assessment has been consistent.“I’m, like, a very smart person,” he assured voters in 2016. “A very stable genius,” he ruled two years later.
“I’m not a doctor,” he allowed on Thursday, pointing to his skull inside the White House briefing room, “but I’m, like, a person that has a good you-know-what.”
Mr. Trump’s performance that evening, when he suggested that injections of disinfectants into the human body could help combat the coronavirus, did not sound like the work of a doctor, a genius, or a person with a good you-know-what.
Even by the turbulent standards of this president, his musings on virus remedies have landed with uncommon force, drawing widespread condemnation as dangerous to the health of Americans and inspiring a near-universal alarm that many of his past remarks — whether offensive or fear-mongering or simply untrue — did not.
Mr. Trump’s typical name-calling can be recast to receptive audiences as mere “counterpunching.” His impeachment was explained away as the dastardly opus of overreaching Democrats. It is more difficult to insist that the man floating disinfectant injection knows what he’s doing.The reaction has so rattled the president’s allies and advisers that he was compelled over the weekend to remove himself from the pandemic briefings entirely, at least temporarily accepting two fates he loathes: giving in to advice (from Republicans who said the appearances did far more harm than good to his political standing) and surrendering the mass viewership he relishes.Some at the White House have expressed frustration that the issue has lingered. “It bothers me that this is still in the news cycle,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator, told CNN on Sunday, adding, “I worry that we don’t get the information to the American people that they need, when we continue to bring up something that was from Thursday night.”
Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who has been willing to speak skeptically about Mr. Trump’s virus leadership, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that it “does send a wrong message” when misinformation spreads from a public official or “you just say something that pops in your head.” Asked to explain the president’s words, Mr. Hogan said, “You know, I can’t really explain it.”
No modern American politician can match Mr. Trump’s record of false or illogical statements, which has invited questions about his intelligence. Insinuations and gaffes have trailed former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dan Quayle and Joseph R. Biden Jr., now the presumptive Democratic nominee, among many others. But Mr. Trump’s stark pronouncement — on live television, amid a grave public health crisis, and leaving little room for interpretation — was at once in a class of its own and wholly consistent with a reputation for carelessness in speech.
Still, for weeks, the president’s political team has been strikingly explicit about its intended messaging against Mr. Biden: presenting him as a doddering 77-year-old not up to the rigors of the office — and setting off on the kind of whisper campaign that does not bother with whispers.
A Trump campaign Twitter account on Saturday celebrated the anniversary of Mr. Biden’s 2020 bid by highlighting all that he had “forgotten” as a candidate, with corresponding video clips of momentary flubs and verbal stumbles: “Joe Biden forgot the name of the coronavirus.” “Joe Biden forgot the G7 was not the G8.” “Joe Biden forgot Super Tuesday was on a Tuesday.”
On Sunday, the Trump campaign made clear that the disinfectant affair would not disrupt its plans. “Joe Biden is often lost,” said Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, “losing his train of thought during friendly interviews, even when he relies on written notes in front of him.”
T.J. Ducklo, a Biden spokesman, called this approach “a distraction tactic — as if anything could erase the memory of the president suggesting people drink disinfectant on national television.”
Carlos Curbelo, a Republican former Florida congressman who clashed at times with Mr. Trump and did not vote for him, said the president’s comments on disinfectants were likely to resonate precisely because he was running a race premised largely on Mr. Biden’s mental capacity. “Given Joe Biden’s gaffes and mistakes, I think the Trump campaign had a strong narrative there,” he said. “At the very least, that advantage was completely erased.”
Mr. Curbelo said a friend had suggested recently that Mr. Trump’s toxic virus idea was “the craziest thing he ever said.”
“I said, ‘I don’t know,’” Mr. Curbelo recalled. “‘Maybe. I’d have to look back and check.’”
This history, of course, is the argument for Democratic caution. The list of episodes that were supposed to end Mr. Trump — the “Access Hollywood” tape, the “very fine people” on both sides of a white supremacist rally, insulting John McCain’s service as a prisoner of war — is longer than most voters’ memories.The president can register as more time-bending than Teflon. Plenty sticks to him; it just tends to be buried quickly enough by the next stack of outrages, limiting the exposure of any single one.But if most Trump admirers have long since made up their minds about him, recent polling on his handling of the crisis does suggest some measure of electoral risk. Governors and public health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci are viewed as far more trustworthy on the pandemic, according to surveys.Lily Adams, a former aide on the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris, who is now advising Unite the Country, a pro-Biden super PAC, said that swing voters in focus groups were especially dismayed at Mr. Trump’s refusal to listen to experts.
“Any person who has ever done a load of laundry, or installed a childproof lock on a cleaning supplies cabinet, or just looked at one of those skulls on the label, knows it’s an idiotic idea,” she said.
Even some of the president’s reliable cheerleaders at Fox News have not tried to defend him. And recent visitors to the Drudge Report — the powerful conservative news aggregation site whose proprietor, Matt Drudge, has increasingly ridiculed Mr. Trump of late — were greeted with a doctored image of “Clorox Chewables.” “Trump Recommended,” the tagline read. “Don’t Die Maybe!”
For Mr. Trump, such mockery tends to singe. Since long before his 2016 campaign, few subjects have been as meaningful to him as appraisals of his intellect.
It is a source of perpetual obsession and manifest insecurity, former aides say, so much so that Mr. Trump has felt the need to allude to his brainpower regularly: tales of his academic credentials at the University of Pennsylvania; his “natural ability” in complicated disciplines; his connection to a “super genius” uncle, an engineer who taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
When Rex Tillerson, the president’s first secretary of state, was reported to have called Mr. Trump a “moron” in private — one of several former senior administration officials said to have rendered equivalent verdicts — Mr. Trump challenged him to “compare I.Q. tests.” A favorite Trump insult on Twitter, reserved for Mr. Biden among others, is “low I.Q. individual.”
“He doesn’t want to feel like anybody is better than he is,” said Barbara A. Res, a former executive vice president of the Trump Organization, who recalled Mr. Trump bragging about his college grades. “He can’t deal with that. I can see it now with the doctors, and that’s why he dismisses them. He used to be intimidated by lawyers. Anyone who knows more than he does makes him feel less than he is.”
Steve Schmidt, a former Republican strategist and prominent Trump critic, said the president’s meditation on disinfectants stood apart from a trope that Mr. Schmidt came to recognize as an adviser to conservatives like Mr. Bush: “that the conservative candidate in the race was also always portrayed as the dumb candidate.”
“But a caricature is distinct from a narrative,” Mr. Schmidt said. And Mr. Trump’s reckless medical fare, he reasoned, had given adversaries a narrative by confirming a caricature.
The president’s own attempts at damage control have been scattershot. First, his new press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, accused the news media of taking Mr. Trump out of context. Shortly afterward, he undercut her case by saying his comments had in fact been a sarcastic prank on reporters, an explanation even some supporters found implausible.
He left his Friday briefing on the coronavirus without taking questions. By Saturday, when Mr. Trump tweeted that the events were “not worth the time & effort,” his opponents conceded this much:
The president had probably done something smart. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/26/us/politics/trump-disinfectant.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
کوټه - په بلوچستان کې د ځوانو ډاکترانو سازمان (ینګ ډاکټرز اسوسيېشن) د اپرېل پر ۲۶مه له صوبايي حکومته وغوښتل چې په چټکۍ د وایرس خپرېدو مخنیوي لپاره دې په سیمه کې ګرځبندیز ولګوي.
د سازمان مشر ډاکتر یاسر اڅکزي په کوټه کې خبري غونډې ته وویل چې د ناروغۍ د خپرېدو یو لامل په ټولبند (لاکډاون) کې نرمي ده.
د اڅکزي په خبره، حکومت دې د وایرس د خپراوي مخنیوي په موخه ۱۵ ورځنی ګرځبند اعلان کړي.
ده همداراز پر حکومت غږ وکړ چې په صوبه کې دې د کورونا وایرس د معاینو شمېر لوړ کړي.
اڅکزی وايي، اوسمهال هره ورځ تر ۴۰۰ پورې ټېسټونه کېږي چې ناکافي دي.
خو صوبايي حکومت د ډاکترانو د ګرځبندیز غوښتنه رد کړې.
د بلوچستان د حکومت ویاند لیاقت شاهوانی وايي، د کرفیو اړتیا نشته البته ټولبند یې سخت کړی دی او په بازارونو کې یې د خلکو پر ګرځېدو له بندیز سره سم، ځینې سرغړوونکي ګرفتار کړي دي.
شاهواني همداراز زیاته کړه چې د بلوچستان حکومت د کورونا وایرس د ټېسټونو شمېر لوړوي.
د کورونا وایرس په اړه د پاکستان د حکومتي ووبپاڼې له وینا سره سم، د اپرېل ۲۶مې تر مازیګره په بلوچستان کې ۷۲۲ کسان وایرس وهلي دي.
In an ironic twist, Ehsanullah Ehsan is championing human rights after fleeing Pakistan.
A former spokesman of the Pakistani Taliban, who goes by the nom de guerre Ehsanullah Ehsan, is currently raising his voice against the alleged human rights abuses of the Pakistani state.Ehsan, who escaped from the captivity of the Pakistani security agencies in February, has written letters to Prime Minister Imran Khan, along with global rights groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Red Crescent.The former spokesman of terror outfits Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JA) alleges that the Pakistan Army has abducted his family members, including father and brothers, without following the “process of law.”Ehsan, reiterating that he doesn’t “want any sympathy for myself,” urges the human rights groups to take note of what he maintains are illegal activities on the part of the Pakistani military.
In a similar plea to Prime Minister Khan, he requests action as a “man of faith.” Ehsan also reminds Khan that two of those allegedly abducted were actually members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Over a week since sending out the letters, Ehsan is still awaiting a response. In an exclusive interview with The Diplomat he recalls his escape, discusses his future, and reiterates that his membership of the Taliban is now a part of his past.
“Contrary to what has been claimed in the media, I did not surrender, I was arrested by the Pakistan Army. I stayed in captivity as part of a deal, but escaped with my family when I realized that the agreement was being breached,” Ehsan recalls.
In a press conference in April 2017, the then-military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor had claimed that Ehsan had surrendered himself to the Pakistan Army. The official stance of Ehsan, and the JA at the time, is that he had been captured from Afghanistan’s Paktika province.Ehsan says that he had agreed a deal with the Pakistani Military Intelligence (MI), which had agreed to pay him a monthly stipend to “facilitate the start of a new life.”“I wanted to leave my past behind and start a new peaceful life. But the Army didn’t follow through with the agreement – perhaps they feared being ridiculed. And now they are targeting my family members in order to blackmail me,” he claims.When asked, the former TTP spokesman didn’t reveal what he offered the Pakistan Army in return for the stipend. However, he maintains that his escape wasn’t facilitated by anyone.Military officials have claimed that Ehsan was an important counterterror asset who had been helping the military take down TTP hideouts across the country, especially in the former tribal areas along the Afghanistan border. The military and government officials have refused to comment on Ehsan, only confirming his escape initially, while claiming that “a lot” is being done in its aftermath.
The Army aired Ehsan’s confessional statement in April 2017, which was followed by an interview with Pakistan’s top media house. However, the Geo TV interview was blocked from being aired by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (PEMRA) over “glorification of a terrorist.” The aired trailer of the interview was deemed insensitive by many, given that the interviewee had taken responsibility for the killings of thousands of Pakistanis.
The attacks Ehsan owned on behalf of the TTP and JA included bombings targeting religious minorities and marginalized Islamic sects. Among the most high-profile attacks claimed by Ehsan on behalf of the Taliban was the one aimed at now Nobel Laureate and education activist Malala Yousafzai in October 2012.
Ehsan does not seem to have had a change of heart regarding the attack on the then-15-year-old girl. “Malala was used by her father and certain elements to promote an anti-Islam narrative. When you work against someone, they will obviously retaliate,” he maintains.
While reiterating that he has “abandoned his past” Ehsan expresses no remorse in being a part of outfits with blood of tens of thousands on their hands. He says those killed were “victims of war” and refuses to condemn the Taliban.
Critics of the Pakistan Army have called it out for not making an example out of a representative of groups that orchestrated attacks like the gruesome Peshawar school massacre in December 2014.
“I was against the Peshawar school attack, and I condemned it as well. Personally, I was against targeting schools and expressed my views during meetings as well. But once an attack had been carried out, it was my responsibility to own it on behalf of my organization,” says Ehsan.
By the time the Peshawar school attack had been orchestrated by the TTP, Ehsan had joined its breakaway faction JA. The splinter group was formed owing to a leadership clash within the TTP, with the group’s chief Fazlullah sidelining Omar Khalid Khorasani, who was its head for the Mohmand Agency. Ehsan had his reservations about Fazlullah and chose to side with Khorasani, joining the JA. He also says there were ideological divisions within the TTP, which were crucial since the “Taliban’s war is based purely on ideology.”
Having been significantly decimated over the past few years, the Pakistani Taliban have resurfaced near the Afghanistan border. This has further overlapped with the shift of the Islamic State (IS, Arabic acronym Daesh) increasing its focus on South Asia. Ehsan recalls that many in the TTP and JA had left to join IS when the group first began to expand from the Middle East to South Asia. That resulted in multiple attacks across Pakistan being simultaneously claimed by the Taliban and the Islamic State. The former Taliban spokesman, however, believes that following the February deal with the United States, it is the Afghan Taliban who hold the most clout in the region as far as the militant outfits are concerned.“The influence of Daesh has decreased [in Afghanistan]. They had established many of their hideouts in Nangarhar, but were then forced to flee to Kunar. The Afghan Taliban have targeted them there in operations as well. What remains to be seen is how the Afghan Taliban react after coming to power. They could demand action against the Pakistani Taliban, but at the same time they have an ideological bond with them as well,” he says.
However, Ehsan reiterates they he personally will not be involved in any potential future warfare, claiming that he is eyeing a “fresh start.” He is currently working on a book, wherein he would look to “reveal the actual truth” with regards to the activities of the Pakistani Taliban during 2007-2017 and also “expose [the] Pakistan Army.”
When asked if he has been backed by anyone to further his new narrative against the Pakistan military, Ehsan insists he is working independently. He claims that he isn’t receiving any funding, and only pursuing an agenda “based on human rights.” Ehsan maintains that is currently being “fed by Allah Almighty.”He refuses to comment on his current whereabouts or reveal what he has been up to since escaping in February. He communicates through a mobile number based in Turkey, where he had reportedly fled to following his escape, which he neither confirms nor denies.However, Ehsan categorically refutes claims that he provided information that helped the Pakistan Army eliminate the Taliban hideouts, maintaining that as the group’s spokesman he was only required to deal with the politics and media, and never had any operational details to divulge.When asked why then the Pakistan Army kept him in captivity for three years, with a paid monthly allowance, Ehsan says, “you should ask them that.”
Ehsan claims that he fears for his life, and believes he will be targeted by “Pakistani institutions” to “hide their failures.” However, he reiterates that his immediate concern is the safety of his family.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday slammed the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Government for allowing congregational prayers.
'I believe that this is a colossal failure of leadership'
'It is an important agreement'
WELL-KNOWN cleric Maulana Tariq Jameel has made a disturbing assertion that Covid-19 has been unleashed on humanity because of the ‘wrongdoing of women’. During a televised prayer, the maulana condemned women for dancing and for how they dress, saying these “immodest actions” have brought the Almighty’s wrath upon the country.
These misogynistic remarks were made during the Ehsaas Telethon fundraising event, in the presence of the prime minister and top broadcast journalists.
In the same prayer, the maulana also cast aspersions on the media for “disseminating lies”, but later apologized for that particular remark on account of having “spoken too much”. No such apology was made for his offensive comments about women. For the maulana to claim that women should be blamed for a global pandemic is not just ill-informed but also inflammatory. The statements are troubling; not only do they betray deep-rooted misogyny, but they were also aired, unchallenged, from a very high-profile platform.
This mentality is reflective of society’s unfortunate tendency to marginalize women simply because social power structures allow them to be viewed as ‘lesser beings’. The remarks also reinforce a dangerous yet normalized idea that targeting women is permissible.
The reality is that women in Pakistan, and elsewhere, face systemic discrimination and violence. During this pandemic, domestic abuse cases have soared as women are forced to stay home for extended periods with their tormentors. Despite these challenges, women strive to be recognized and shatter glass ceilings — as evidenced by the effective response of global women leaders in this pandemic.
Given that the ruling PTI is lauded for its inclusion of women in political rallies and for celebrating their lively participation, it is a shame that the maulana was not corrected when he made these offensive comments.
Later, however, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, without directly naming the maulana, rightly criticised such thinking as ludicrous and ignorant. The maulana must apologize for his unsavory remarks, and accept that while prayers are always welcome, the nation can do without scorn and misguided views.
Analysis | Pakistan’s Imran Khan loses control of coronavirus fight to military, amid corruption scandal
It found that three of his close political aides – all mill owners – earned tens of millions of US dollars following a federal cabinet decision last July to allow the export of sugar. They had already benefited from a sizeable subsidy on domestic rates from the Punjab provincial government, which is also controlled by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party.Khan conceded that he had chaired the cabinet meeting and approved the proposal because he thought it would benefit millions of farmers. Instead, the export of sugar, along with wheat flour, triggered nationwide shortages which practically doubled retail prices by January, and fuelled double-digit consumer price inflation rates in the midst of an economic slowdown.Since then, Khan has been under increasing pressure from the military to improve the performance of his government, said Abbas Nasir, a London-based analyst and former Asia-Pacific executive editor for the BBC World Service.The military has ruled Pakistan directly for half its 73-year history, and is considered the ultimate arbiter of political power.“There has been constant nudging from the army chief [of staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa] and his intel chief for better governance,” said Nasir.
After the first confirmed coronavirus infection cluster in Pakistan was identified on March 12, Khan was reluctant to take drastic measures and downplayed the threat. In his first televised speech on the unfurling crisis on March 17, Khan said a shutdown would exacerbate Pakistan’s grinding poverty.Behind the scenes, however, Bajwa was alarmed, according to civil servants who spoke to This Week In Asia on condition of anonymity, citing the threat of official disciplinary action.They claimed that Bajwa contacted Azam Suleman, the chief secretary of Punjab and a retired army officer who reportedly trained with him at Pakistan’s premier military academy. Acting on Bajwa’s advice, Suleman apparently ignored instructions from Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to follow Khan’s policy of few restrictions on public movement, and made a formal request for assistance from the armed forces.Taking their lead from Punjab, the top bureaucrats of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial administrations led by the PTI followed suit, the officials said, while the opposition-led government of Sindh was already on board. Pakistan is divided into four provinces, each with a separate elected assembly and chief minister.The federal interior ministry had no choice but to approve the requests because provincial governments enjoy administrative autonomy under Pakistan’s constitution.The deployments were announced on March 23, Pakistan’s national day.
Khan, however, continued to oppose the partial shutdowns that troops were deployed to enforce until April 1, when Bajwa summoned a meeting of senior generals and cabinet ministers. Afterwards, Planning Minister Asad Umar announced that the military would oversee coordination of the state’s campaign to prevent the spread of Covid-19.“The army is now firmly in charge of the administrative machinery, and will retain control for at least two months,” an Islamabad-based civil servant said.An increase in testing led to a surge in Covid-19 infections in Pakistan, with over 4,000 cases and 61 deaths. The health services ministry has forecast the number of infections will exceed 50,000 by April 25, with 5,000-7,000 deaths.A political analyst said the military was forced to intervene because Khan’s inept response to the pandemic amplified accusations that it colluded with partisan civil servants and judges to rig the 2018 elections in Khan’s favour.“Imran Khan has proved to be a big disappointment for those who brought him to power and even those who supported him. His mishandling of the coronavirus crisis has been particularly jarring,” said Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistan ambassador to the US, currently a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank.“Given that the army backed him openly, Khan’s failures are reflecting poorly on the military leadership and they do not like that,” he said.
By S. Khan, Shamil Shams
Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country of around 212 million people, marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan on Saturday, April 25. It is, however, not an ordinary Ramadan, as the country struggles to cope with the surging cases of the novel coronavirus.
By Friday, Pakistan recorded more than 11,000 COVID-19 cases despite limited testing for the disease. Around 237 people have so far died from the virus. On April 15, Pakistan registered around 6,000 confirmed coronavirus cases; a week later, the infections rose to over 11,000, almost a 50% spike.
Ramadan is a month when more Muslims offer prayers in mosques and visit supermarkets. Many people were expecting that Prime Minister Imran Khan's government would impose a strict ban on mass prayers – including the special Ramadan prayers in mosques – to slow the spread of COVID-19. But Khan, a conservative politician who enjoys right-wing support, decided against shutting down the mosques. The government, however, urged Islamic clerics to ensure social distancing rules during Ramadan prayers.
Top Pakistani doctors on Tuesday warned that congregational prayers will be disastrous for the country.
"With Ramadan approaching, we would understandably expect higher number of namazis (worshippers) attending the prayers. Moreover, long Taraweeh prayers (speical evening prayers during Ramadan) and waiting times will lead to prolonged gatherings,".the doctors said in a letter to PM Khan and President Arif Alvi.
"It is all but certain that this will cause significant mayhem, as the mosques practising social distancing will only be able to accommodate 20-25% of the regular namazis, which will further worsen the situation," the letter added.
A recipe for disaster?
PM Khan told media on Thursday that he was cognizant of doctors' concerns, but his government cannot stop people from praying in mosques.
Khan has been slammed for an apparent "lack of policy" to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics say his government has been sending mixed signals about the lockdown, which has resulted in people not taking it seriously. The prime minister has also been lenient with Islamic groups even though the primary coronavirus infections were detected among the returning pilgrims from Iran and the Sunni hardliners who refused to follow social distancing rules in their assemblies.
"It is unfortunate that people are bent on going to mosques for congregational prayers. Now, with the easing of lockdown restrictions, even more people will head to the mosques, which could result in a higher number of coronavirus cases. I fear that our health system could collapse," Obed Usmani, an Islamabad-based health expert, told DW, adding that Ramadan relaxations are a recipe for disaster.
"The government should not only ban congregational prayers but must impose curfew to make it more effective," Usmani added.
Shahnaz Khan, a doctor who is based in the eastern city of Lahore, says that instead of consulting health experts, Khan's government is seeking advice from Islamic clerics. "The government should pay heed to doctors' advice instead of appeasing religious groups. I am worried about the impact of government's decisions," Khan told DW.
Doctors fear that the easing of social distancing restrictions and the clerics' defiance of the lockdown could put them in harm's way.
"We are facing an acute shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and other medical facilities. The government is not helping us, not providing protective gear to the medical staff working in emergency wards," Tipu Sultan, former president of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), told DW.
"On top of it, the government is easing restrictions and clerics are vowing to hold mass prayers in mosques. It could all lead to a surge in coronavirus cases in the country. I fear that our entire public healthcare system will be overwhelmed," Sultan added.
Is Khan appeasing fundamentalists?
In contrast to the federal government's response to the coronavirus outbreak, the southern Sindh province has imposed stricter measures to tackle the pandemic.
On Thursday, Sindh's Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah announced the evening Ramadan prayers will be restricted to 3-5 persons while others will have to offer prayers at home.
Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, a former minister from Baluchistan province, told DW that Khan's government was not serious in tackling the pandemic. "The government has surrendered to clerics and other interest groups. In most Islamic countries, mosques have been shut down. The state must establish its writ by reining in the mullahs," he said.
Khan is known for his "soft spot" for Islamic fundamentalists. He has remained a supporter of talks with the Taliban throughout his political career. Liberal analysts say he does not want to lose his right-wing support. They are also of the view that it is not the time for politics as the country is facing an existential threat.
Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party rejects allegations that the government is appeasing right-wing groups.
Muhammad Bashir Khan, a PTI lawmaker, says Pakistanis believe that by praying to God the virus will be eliminated.
"The US has recorded more than 600,000 coronavirus cases. The situation in Europe is also devastating. China, too, suffered a great deal. How many of these cases were related to mosques or prayers?" asked Khan. "We have not surrendered to clerics; we just want to please God."
Will both countries be able to shun acrimony and focus on Covid-19 this year?Many of these prisoners have already spent years, if not decades, in these prisons. It is high time they returned to their home countries and their families.
Pakistan’s repeated offers for bilateral dialogue, and the sentiment inherent in India’s offer for cooperation in March had rekindled hopes for an improvement in the tense relations between the two countries.