Imran cracks whip on media team amid criticism over poor handling of virus

The Pakistan government has also faced criticism for its delayed reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan replaced his media advisor with a powerful former military spokesman as he revamped his publicity team after criticism about his government's handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Former Army spokesman Lt Gen (retied) Asim Saleem Bajwa, who is also the chairman of the newly-created China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority, replaced Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan as the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) for information and broadcasting.

Bajwa was the director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistan Armed Forces, from 2012 to 2016 when General Raheel Sharif was the Army chief and served as the commander of the southern command before his retirement last year. Bajwa was credited for making Sharif a larger than life figure and transforming the working of the ISPR.

Prime Minister Khan also appointed Senator Shibli Faraz as the new information minister. Faraz is the son of eminent Urdu poet late Ahmad Faraz. Minister for Science, Fawad Chaudhry, who was the first information minister of Khan, made the announcement of the new appointments.

"Truly an honourable and dignified man @shiblifaraz has been appointed new Information minister of Pak, and brilliant @AsimSBajwa appointed SAPM on info both 'll make a great team.... all the best," Chaudhry said in a tweet.

The changes were made to blunt the perception that the media handling of the government was not good and its work was not being properly highlighted amidst the massive health crisis due to the coronavirus outbreak.

However, many analysts still wonder how the new team would deliver until the common people feel the benefit of the steps taken by the government.

"The way these changes have been made will not give a good impression and help the cause of the government," analyst Ayaz Amir told Dunya TV.

The Pakistan government has also faced criticism for its delayed reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pakistan has 14,079 coronavirus cases while the death toll from the pandemic has crossed the 300 mark, the health ministry said.

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