Pakistan in dilemma over Friday prayers amid coronavirus oubtreak threat

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 27, 2020, 02.42 PM(IST) Written By: Anas Mallick

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Pakistan's religious gatherings have been a major source of local spread of the coronavirus, so much so that it has also been exported to Palestine and Malaysia from Pakistan. 

Pakistan’s coronavirus positive patients count is now at 1200 with 9 deaths and 24 recoveries. The country is struggling to get a hold of its COVID-19 positive cases, but the challenge at hand remains of social distancing, while the Pakistani Prime Minister has been calling for the measure.

In the midst of all this, one place which can be a potential spreader are mosques and religious gatherings, and the Imran Khan government is completely indecisive on that topic.

Also read: Pakistan - Number of confirmed cases rise to 1203; Sindh province remains worst-hit

Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on COVID-19 where the matter of putting a ban was discussed and was decided that Friday prayers will go ahead but will be "limited". 

This limited is yet to be defined by the government while written orders are also due.

Religion has always been a sensitive topic in Pakistan. 

On Thursday, President Arif Alvi met with a group of clerics and urged them to ask people to refrain from showing up at Mosques, while the clerics threw the ball back in the government's court by saying that there are religious provisions under which government can restrict prayers at mosques. give the right to the state under which prayers at Mosques can be barred.

The Imran Khan government remains in a fix over the issues as instead do placing a blanket ban, whereas the government relied on "requesting" the people to stay in their home.

The situation, however, would be different in the province of Sindh and Balochistan as with thanks to the 18th amendment in the Pakistani constitution giving provincial autonomy, the provinces can decide on their own as well and defy or override the orders from the central government, and well they are doing so.

Pakistan's religious gatherings have been a major source of local spread of the coronavirus, so much so that it has also been exported to Palestine and Malaysia from Pakistan. 

Just last week ago a Kyrgyz national tested positive for the virus, in the event of the inability and reluctance shown by the Federal government led by Imran Khan, the Friday prayers can lead to a potential disaster where there could possibly be more cases of local transmission of the deadly coronavirus.