Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday slammed the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Government for allowing congregational prayers in the Mosques and for sending out "mixed messages". In an interview with a British broadcaster, Bhutto said that Imran Khan's logic and reasoning to change the restrictions which were already in place are beyond comprehension.
In a video clip of the interview was shared by Pakistani journalist Naila Inayat praising Bilawal Bhutto. The President of the Pakistan Peoples Party said, "Given the mix messaging coming from the Federal Government, we look still engaging with the religious community and try and convince them to abide by the lockdown restrictions which they were already abiding by. But of course, that is now difficult as the Prime Minister of the country is on national television making it an issue about freedom. I believe that this is a colossal failure of leadership in Pakistan."
He added, "When we compare ourselves to the rest of the Muslim world like Saudi Arabia, Iran and others, they are taking steps to save the lives of their citizens. This is not the time for populous electoral decisions. It is time to take decisions on the advice of doctors and health experts. Doctors of Pakistan from Lahore to Karachi are protesting or holding press conferences appealing to take those necessary steps to protect them and ease the burden on our healthcare system."
Succumbing to pressure from the hardline clerics, the Pakistan government on Saturday allowed congregational prayers in mosques during the month of Ramazan, endangering the drive to curb the spread of coronavirus. President Arif Alvi made the announcement after a meeting with religious leaders and political representatives of all provinces.
Alvi said a 20-point plan has been agreed upon. “It is an important agreement and it has been reached after consensus among all religious leaders, he said. The clerics have agreed to follow the government guidelines on social-distancing while praying in Mosques. According to the agreement, people above the age of 50, minors and those suffering from flu will not be allowed to enter mosques.
Several countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt have stopped congregational prayers. In several Arab countries, the azan (call for prayer) has been amended and now it urges people to pray in their homes.
Pakistan on Thursday reported 224 deaths from novel Coronavirus while the total number of cases surged to 10,513. According to details, 4590 patients have been tested positive for the epidemic in Punjab, 3373 in Sindh, 1453 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 552 in Balochistan, 290 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 204 in Islamabad and 51 in Azad Kashmir. According to the National Command and Operation Center, so far 2,337 patients of Coronavirus have been recovered, while 224 died and 60 others are in a critical condition.
(With agency inputs)