The government and the Shia ulema Thursday agreed upon various standard operating procedures (SOP's) to contain the spread of corona virus during the mourning rituals of Muharram-ul-Haram, including processions as well as gatherings.

The SOP's were finalized in a meeting between President Dr Arif Alvi and the renowned Shia Ulema here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.

It was attended by Religious Affairs Minister Pir Nurul Haq Qadri, Interior Minister Brigadier (Retd) Aijaz Shah and Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, besides the Shia Ulema (scholars) including Allama Arif Wahidi, Raja Nasir Abbas, Dr Ghazanfar Mehdi, Allama Qamar Haider Zaidi, Raja Basharat Imami, and Allama Sajjad Naqvi.

The other provincial governors, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan, Allama Afzal Haidri and Allama Hussain Akbar from Punjab, Allama Shahanshah Naqvi, Allama Syed Ali Iqrar Naqvi and Allama Furqan Haider from Sindh, Allama Abid Shakiri and Allama Irshad Khalili from KP, Allama Syed Hashim Mosvi and Allama Sheikh Juma Asadi from Balochistan, and Mufti Kifayat Hussain Naqvi from the AJK participated through video link.

Addressing the meeting, the president lauded the religious scholars for extending cooperation during the Holy Month of Ramazan and Eid-ul-Fitr to contain the spread of COVID-19 and expected similar cooperation again.

Among the agreed SOP's included social distancing in gatherings, marking for sitting, no-entry without mask, no use of carpet, chlorination of mats permitted to use outside Imam-bargah only, and brief and time-bound Majalis. Ban on the participation of old-aged people, hand shake or hugging, bringing along prayer mats, Sajda Gah or beads had also been agreed upon, besides the take-away of food instead of servings. The mourners would not be allowed to touch Alam (flag), Taazia and Shabih.

Only the licensed processions would be allowed subject to enforcement of SOP's, including hand sanitizers, face masks, single use glasses for drinking water, limited number of participants with restriction on old-aged and ailing persons.

The president thanked the ulema for cooperation and congratulated on evolving consensus on the SOP's.

The scholars also lauded the president’s role to bring about national unity and harmony among different schools of thought.