PM, SC anti lockdown behaviour risk lots of lives

PHOTO: THE DAYSPRING
By: Farzana Ali Khan

ISLAMABAD: Men and women have again started turning to the market places to shop with newfound enthusiasm, as Pakistan’s Supreme Court justified reopening shopping malls by claiming that Pakistan “is not … seriously affected” by Covid-19 and that there is no pandemic in the country. 

The Supreme Court ruling reflects a broader attempt by Pakistani federal authorities to trivialize the impact of Covid-19.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has framed the pandemic response as a choice between death by starvation or death by infection, even though his government has opposed the relief package the Sindh provincial government has offered for low-income workers worst affected by the pandemic. The federal planning minister has compared Covid-19 deaths to people dying in traffic accidents. 

And last week, Pakistan became one of a handful of countries to ease restrictions on markets and social gatherings even as the number of infections was rising, without putting in place rules on social distancing, the wearing of masks, or other measures to slow the spread of the virus.

By understating the threat of the pandemic, the Pakistani government is denying those returning to work the information they need to protect themselves from Covid-19. 

It has also failed to ensure protection for healthcare workers, and has arrested and intimidated medical workers who have raised concerns about the lack of protective equipment and the looming health crisis.

Some of the experts in Pakistan have warned against the premature easing of lockdown restrictions, fearing an exponential rise in infections. Everyone’s scared and exhausted. But the life saviours are fighting, pushing the limits.

 All we ask is that government and people understand that they can help us help them by staying at home and providing us quality protective gear.

The Supreme Court decision effectively denies this plea and puts more lives at risk.

There are many important steps that Pakistani authorities need to take to protect the population, particularly vulnerable groups, in these extraordinary times. Hastily reopening shopping malls is not one of them.

 As relative lockdown release  has been announced the Pakistanis around the world are starting to make plans for Eid ul Fitr, the day that marks the end of Ramadan and is normally celebrated with large feasts and family gatherings where adults offer gifts to children. 

In the time of coronavirus, however, some aspects of these traditional Eid celebrations come with risk. With large gatherings banned and physical distancing measures still in place, families are being asked to honour the spirit of the holiday with the realities of the pandemic in mind.

Though the federal government was supposed to take strict actions and continue with the lockdown to prove Pakistani government does have a bit common sense still the governance is behaving on the contrary.

By comparing Pakistan with the UAE government and other muslim world , who has introduced strictest public policies for this year’s Eid ul Fitr in an effort to raise awareness and discourage irresponsible behaviour.

Even as some restrictions were relaxed for Ramadan new rules were introduced, such as wearing masks in public and avoiding overcrowding.

These measures are crucial for public safety and for keeping those most vulnerable healthy and coronavirus-free. Flouting restrictions; amounts to endangering oneself and putting the health of loved ones at risk.

To avoid this situation, people must follow health guidelines diligently, not only throughout Ramadan but also for Eid and hereafter, and resist the temptation of hosting or attending large gatherings for this occasion. Heeding and sharing the advice of health experts can prove to be life-saving.

Traditionally the festival at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan is marked with communal prayers in mosques, visits to friends and family.

The Muslim should celebrate virtually due to social-distancing measures brought in during the coronavirus pandemic.

Following are the Guidelines have been drawn up for those celebrating.

The special Eid ul-Fitr prayers are typically among the best attended of the year, and people also mark the occasion by holding parties.

However, due to the pandemic, mosques have been closed for nine weeks.

Normally Muslims will be at the mosque, mosques will be thronging with people from the morning and households will not be just be [full] of individuals, but families, extended families and friends all coming together.

So from a religious perspective, that’s really difficult. Every single year people get dressed up and go to the mosque and take part in this really important, obligatory for some, part of the faith. And that just won’t be possible.

This is extremely challenging and distressing for us. We have had to make a lot of spiritual sacrifices during Ramadan and that will continue on the day of celebration.

Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, is a special time for nearly two billion Muslims all over the world.

In a normal year, it is a time of communal prayer and of daytime fasting from all food and drink. It is also accompanied by night-time feasting and acts of generosity and charity as Muslims reaffirm their faith in God the prospect of Eid ul-Fitr under lockdown will be difficult, it was probably harder not going to the mosque during Ramadan.

 So although it is a big disappointment for Eid to be under lockdown, it is something we have gone through with Ramadan. It is difficult but we’re kind of used to it.

The spirit of Eid ul Fitr is not only about gathering with loved ones. It is also about sacrifice and acknowledgement of what is really important. As the date for Eid approaches, let us celebrate safely and keep one another out of harm’s way.