Islamabad [Pakistan], Mar 28 (ANI): Pakistan which has coronavirus trajectory worse than Italy's, and a deteriorated healthcare setup, has risked millions of lives recently by permitting a congregation of a quarter of a million Muslims in Lahore from different parts of the world amid coronavirus outbreak.
At a time when countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia are banning religious gatherings, Pakistan has not taken any such action and allowed an event organized by the local Tableeghi Jamaat Tableeghi Ijtema [literally "a congregation for outreach"].
On Sunday, the Gaza strip reported its first two cases of coronavirus. The two Palestinian men had recently returned from Pakistan after attending the event. They were among the 250,000 people that gathered in Lahore from March 10-15.
Pakistan has reported over 1300 cases and the country is totally ignorant about the rising number of cases. Journalist Kunwar Khuldune Shahid wrote in Hareetz that Pakistan might end up becoming a "super-spreader of the COVID-19" in the world.
"Pakistan's numbers are prodigiously underreported, one can only imagine the actual gravity of the spread that might have been caused by the millions who came together for the latest Friday prayers," wrote Shahid.
While Iran had canceled the weekly Friday prayers and Saudi Arabia had suspended the Umrah pilgrimage by the end of February, the Pakistani government was still "dillydallying" over forestalling a gathering of over a quarter of a million people in the country's second-most populous city.
On March 12, the organizers were asked to disband the assembly, but only after around 250,000 people had already assembled in camps in preparation for the event. "The reason cited for the closure of the event wasn't the fact that the world is in the midst of a pandemic which will completely change the global order - it was 'rainy weather'," wrote Shahid.
Shahid said that the clergies in Pakistan are not paying heed to calls for social distancing. What is worse is that government inaction against these clergies.
At a time when Iran has shut down the holiest Shia sites, Saudi Arabia has banned prayers at mosques - including the two holiest in Islam - and numerous Muslim countries like Turkey, UAE, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, among others have closed mosques, Pakistan allowed the Friday prayers on March 20, nationwide.
No action is being taken against clerics spreading lies about the cure of coronavirus on national television. Prominent Deobandi cleric Muhammad Taqi Usmani revealed on national TV that Prophet Muhammad had come in the dream of a Tableeghi Jamaatmember and "shared the cure for coronavirus." The cure was the recital of certain Quranic verses.
More than 1,300 positive cases of novel coronavirus have been reported from Pakistan till now, with Sindh trailing behind the Punjab Province in tally.
Twenty-nine new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Punjab on Friday, taking the tally to 448 in the province, according to a spokesperson for the Punjab health department, DAWN reported.
Punjab now has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the country, overtaking Sindh's total of 440. (ANI)