ISLAMABAD         -            Religious clerics in the country are likely to face severe criticism for their resistance to the ban on religious gatherings despite the warning from health experts regarding the looming crisis in the upcoming days.

Buckling under pressure, the government last week allowed clerics to hold congregational prayers during the month under a 20-point consensus strategy which includes maintaining six-foot distance between worshipers inside mosques. However, no implementation of 20-point consensus was witnessed in the majority of mosques across the country, which has put a question mark on the fate of the agreement between the government and religious clerics.

On the other hand, health experts in a press conference on April 22 in Karachi said the government’s move betrayed a “non-serious attitude” towards the containment of COVID-19 in the country.  Besides medical experts, the government’s decision was also criticised by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which termed it as a confusing agreement between the government of Pakistan and the Ulema. Governments and religious authorities across the world have termed this crisis a health issue which has nothing to do with anyone’s religion, stressing that the people have to follow what health experts are saying. Unfortunately, the case in Pakistan is different as the religious clerics are given importance and health experts are ignored.

While talking on the issue a senior doctor from Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar (LRH) without revealing his name told The Nation that health experts were the regularly called “frontline warriors” by state officials, but still the incumbent government was not paying heed to their suggestions. He stated that it was a health issue but still the government is dealing with the matter through religious leaders, which is not good for the common people of Pakistan.

While raising a point, he said that all those clerics who were asking the government to remove the ban from religious gatherings have themselves decided to pray at homes and only the common people were pushed into a looming crisis.