KARACHI: In defiance of Sindh government’s call for a complete lockdown from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Friday to curb the spread of coronavirus, a number of people attended congregational prayers at some mosques of Karachi despite being urged by religious authorities to pray at home.
In Karachi, a heavy contingent of police, Rangers and Pakistan Army was deployed across the city to ensure compliance with the lockdown. Only a few motorcycles, cars and other vehicles were seen on the roads. Offices, markets and schools remained closed and only hospitals, medical stores, grocery shops and milk shops remained open.
While a great majority of prayer leaders followed the government’s orders, some continued to hold regular prayers. Some citizens and prayer leaders were quoted by a local news outlet as saying that the government was trying to spread fear but they had left the current situation to the will of God.
In other towns and cities of the province, including Sukkur, Larkana, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas divisions, the doors of most mosques were locked with only four to five people, including the prayer leader, allowed to pray. But in rural areas, especially in villages, the ban could not be implemented.
Meanwhile, Sindh Information and Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah on Friday thanked the people of Sindh, especially the people of Karachi, saying that the way people followed the government’s announced lock down on Friday and stayed at their homes even for prayers was exemplary.
The minister said that the Sindh government needed the same kind of cooperation from its people to get rid of a pandemic like the coronavirus. “The more people cooperate with the government regarding the lock down, the sooner we will get rid of this pandemic,” he said.
Shah said that banning prayer gatherings, whether Friday prayers or other prayers was a tough decision for the Sindh government, but the government had no other choice.
He also thanked the clerics of all the sects saying that the way all the religious leaders cooperated with the government and endorsed the ban on congregational prayers in mosques was also exemplary. This would not had been possible without the cooperation of the religious scholars, he added.
The minister said that the only way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus was to adopt all the necessary precautionary measures as no vaccine or any other treatment had been developed so far to cure a person affected by coronavirus. The government was taking best possible steps to prevent the spread of the virus in Sindh, he added.
He said that the government was also increasing its testing capacity, by adopting this approach a picture about the number of affected people in the province would be cleared.
Shah said that the Sindh government was trying its best to adopt all those measures that could help in stopping the spread of the virus locally, and for which according to the health experts social distancing was the only best preventive measure.
He said that this was the only reason the government had extended the duration of lockdown. He added that the government was well aware of the sufferings of the people because of the lockdown, especially of the daily wagers.
He expressed hope that due these measures, soon the country would get rid of the coronavirus pandemic, and once again mosques, educational institutions, markets, parks, and playgrounds would be crowded with the students, children and other people.
But, for the time being, he urged people to be careful and to adopt social distancing.