Senior citizens above the age of 60, frontline workers and high-risk individuals have been placed on the Covid-19 vaccination priority list in Pakistan. Those who do not fall under any of the aforementioned categories are instantly denied the jab. Of course, this is due to the low supply of doses in the country and so, it only makes sense for the government to have made such a decision in the first place. However, there are a handful of the self-seeking elite, who believe they can exercise their power over ordinary citizens, even if that means getting vaccinated out of turn. A recent episode is proof of the same.
Federal Minister for Housing and Works Tariq Bashir Cheema supervises the Covid-19 vaccination of his entire family – at his home pic.twitter.com/hpZ681frMF
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) March 29, 2021
What went down:
In a video that went viral on the internet yesterday, Federal Minister for Housing Tariq Bashir Cheema and his family members can be seen getting vaccinated from the comfort of their home. In the clip, the politician is seated with another man wearing a mask, as well as several women of different ages, including young girls, with two nurses taking turns to inject them one after another. The video is accompanied with a GIF that reads, “Happy Vaccine Day!”
While none of them appear to be above 60, among them is actor Iffat Omar – a renowed showbiz personality who has often spoken about the subject of ‘ethics’ – who can also be seen receiving the jab. A Twitter user highlighted the same. “This lady is neither a frontline health worker nor above 60 years of age. She is leading actor Iffat Omar who criticises the government, which is fine but talks about ethics too. In this picture, she is being vaccinated for Covid. How is that? Where are her ethics and principles now?” read the post.
Soon after landing in hot waters, Cheema clarified that the team of the University of Health Sciences (UHS) had visited them to administer the vaccine during a clinical trial. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case and the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has now decided to hold an inquiry over the video clip. “We have learnt that a number of segments of society are involved in such practice. People are vaccinated and they are included in the list of healthcare workers. During a meeting of the NCOC it was decided to first inquire that whether the family members of the minister were vaccinated in Islamabad or Punjab,” Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said while talking to a news channel.
Omar also came forward with her justification for the act in a Twitter post, which she took down minutes later. The starlet also shared that the vaccine she received was a trial one. “This was a booster shot of a Cansino (trial) vaccine received from UHS who also provided the previous shot. It’s not illegal or privilege,” she had written on the micro-blogging site. Many failed to believe her since trial vaccines are generally not available for mass usage if they are in the experiment stage. Others called her out for lying because the trial for the CanSino vaccine had reportedly concluded several weeks prior to the recent incident. To make matters worse, Omar asked her followers to “take it easy”, yet again making it seem like it was no big deal.
Social media users have been furious since. A user wrote, “I used to like Iffat Omar. But quite disappointed in her jumping the queue to get her vaccine. And then lying about it after first advertising it.” Another correctly noted, “Just remember every time someone jumps the queue, he/she deprives an elderly person or healthcare worker who is at more risk to die from it.” One more user spoke about how thousands of people are waiting in severe anxiety for their turn, which is being snatched away from them by influential and high-profile personalities.
“This is Iffat Omar telling us about integrity and ethics every other day. Preach what you follow,” penned one more user. Lashing out at Cheema, a user wrote, “I expect and demand an apology from Federal Minister for Housing and Works Tariq Bashir Cheema. First, he along with his family did an immoral thing, and then he had the audacity to lie about it calling it a trial shot.”