Pakistan to develop its own coronavirus vaccine, NA told

The National Assembly was informed on Thursday that the government was procuring raw materials to combat the coronavirus pandemic in sufficient quantity and it was expected that Pakistan would develop its own vaccine against the virus.

The house, which met here with Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri in the chair, deferred the formation of a parliamentary committee on electoral reforms until the opposition parties were consulted on the matter.

During the session, Shunila Ruth, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker on a minorities’ seat, asked the chair to declare holiday on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The chair said that there should be holidays on religious days for minorities.

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During the Question Hour, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Dr Noshin Hamid said that 70 million people would be vaccinated against the coronavirus during the ongoing inoculation drive to create “herd immunity” against the virus.

Similarly, she said, raw materials relating to combatting the Covid-19 pandemic were being procured in large quantities, which would help make the coronavirus vaccine. “We will soon make our own coronavirus vaccine,” she told the lawmakers.

The National Assembly was also informed that Prime Minister Imran Khan had withdrawn the notifications aimed at curtailing the powers of additional secretaries of 15 departments posted at the South Punjab Secretariat.

The issue was raised in the lower house of parliament by a treasury member from Multan, Ahmed Hussain Dehar. He pointed out that the South Punjab Secretariat was established by the ruling PTI but the powers of the officers posted there had been curtailed.

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MNA Malik Amir Dogar told the house that additional secretaries of 15 provincial departments had been posted in Multan but they did not want to be subordinates to those sitting in Lahore. “It’s a conspiracy that South Punjab Secretariat does not have fully empowered additional secretaries.”

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said that the controversial notifications had been withdrawn. “The prime minister himself took notice of the issue,” he said, adding that the notifications were issued to fully empower additional secretaries for South Punjab.

The state minister also moved a motion, calling for the establishment of a joint parliamentary committee on electoral reforms. The opposition members objected to the motion, saying that they should be consulted before the formation of such a committee.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmaker Shazia Marri said that the party was ready for electoral reforms but there should not be any reforms in which 20 presiding officers disappear in the fog – a reference to the NA-75 by-polls conducted in February.

MNA Khurram Dastgir Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that the parliamentary committee should not be formed unless the opposition was consulted on the matter. The deputy speaker then postponed the formation of the committee.

Energy Minister Omar Ayub informed the house that an appellate body was being formed in the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra). “The provinces will be represented in the appellate body … The matter is under consideration of the Council of Common Interests (CCI).”

Later, PML-N lawmaker Ali Gohar presented a private member’s bill. But when PPP’s Mehreen Razzaq Bhutto stood up to table her private member’s bill, Gohar pointed out a lack of quorum. Mehreen expressed her anguish at the move by fellow opposition lawmaker.

The parliamentary affairs state minister told the two lawmakers to avoid “bringing the PDM [Pakistan Democratic Movement] infighting in parliament”, stressing that the government was supporting opposition’s “good bills” therefore, quorum should not be pointed out.

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)