The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government on Friday refused to allow Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to hold public rally in Peshawar due to increasing cases of coronavirus. The district administration has issued a notification in this regard, stating that a joint meeting was held with the organizers of the said rally. “Ceremonies and public gatherings are to be avoided as the Covid-19 positivity rate for district Peshawar has presently exceeded 13 percent, which is alarmingly high and any large public gathering is likely to further increase the spread of life threatening virus,” the notification stated. It further said that the local authorities regret to inform that permission for the said event has not been granted to the opposition parties. It also cited a notification issued by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on November 2, which said that “ceremonies and other gatherings shall be avoided” in order to curb the spread of the virus. It is to be mentioned here that PDM leadership has pledged to hold rally in Peshawar on November 22 at any cost. The opposition alliance had sought permission to hold a public meeting on Peshawar’s Dalazak Road, Ring Road Chowk earlier this month. Responding to the Peshawar administration’s decision, PML-N Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter’s spokesperson Ikhtiar Wali said that the opposition alliance will go ahead with the public meeting. In a statement, Wali said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had held a public meeting in Swat last week and another gathering was held by KP chief minister two days before that. “Who did they ask for permission? And who granted them permission? So if there is no rule for the ruling party, then why is [there one] for us?” he said. Wali further said that the administration had warned that it will take action if a gathering is held, adding that “we are ready to face it”. “Your (administration) role is that of the city’s guardian, fulfill it. We are political people, we are ready to face it. This will not be a new thing, we are prepared for it,” he said. PPP leader Nafeesa Shah, in a press conference, declared that “selected [government] was now using new tactics”. She said that the government that previously considered coronavirus as nothing but flu was now using it as an excuse to stop the opposition from holding the gathering. She insisted that all arrangements had been made to ensure that standard operating procedures were followed. “This government is doing corona engineering, it should stop,” she said. Precautionary measures to curb the virus’ spread were not observed in any of the previous PDM rallies, which have so far been held in Gujranwala, Karachi and Quetta. KP chief minister’s aide Kamran Bangash tweeted the DC’s letter and said: “[Positivity] rate of coronavirus cases in Peshawar has reached 13pc. Be sensible.” Information Minister Shibli Faraz also urged the opposition to “be sensible” and said, “Coronavirus pandemic is a global reality, it is not an innovation of someone’s mind. Court decision has also been issued, opposition should be sensible and should not be an enemy of the public. Protection of public’s health is our foremost priority. If God forbid, precious lives are lost, opposition leaders and the organisers of public meetings will be responsible.” Meanwhile, Punjab Health Department also banned big public gatherings, allowing only up to 300 people with Covid SOPs in place, as second novel coronavirus wave continues to haunt the province. The department sanctioned only a maximum of 300 people to attend the gatherings, such as wedding ceremonies, etc, but with strict implementation on Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures. “With immediate effect, the new order will remain in force at least up until January 31 the next year. All the citizens will wear masks and ensure SOPs, said the secretary while he passed the order,” a notification by secretary for the primary and secondary health department Punjab stated.