Khudayar Mohla –
ISLAMABAD, (TLTP): While alleging that there are insufficient institutional arrangements to test symptoms of Covid-19 in Islamabad airport on Saturday, petitioners sought Supreme Court directives for expansion of the pandemic testing capacity to 10,000 people daily to ensure free testing of the virus in public and private hospitals across the country.
Invoking top court jurisdiction in the matter through former president Supreme Court Bar Association Kamran Murtaza, two advocates Rohail Kasi, Usama Khawar Ghumman and others also urged the court to establish an independent committee of experts for overseeing and analyze the government plan of action, devised for curbing Covid-19 pandemic.
Making federation through secretary, Ministry of National Health Services, National Disaster Management Authority through its chairman and all the four provinces through chief secretaries as respondents in the matter the petitioners prayed the top court to declare a national public health emergency across the country and establish an emergency relief fund for the crisis. Petitioners also requested the court to utilize dam fund for curtailment of Covid-19 virus.
Seeking enforcement of immediate curfew, with full backing of the state the petitioners said, “Only those who have to go to work, have a medical emergency or have something of utmost importance should be allowed to leave home”.
They submitted, “Follow the Prophet (PBUH)’s Sunnah (now being implemented in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, etc) to avoid going out in times of plague and temporarily close congregational prayer. As per the Prophet’s example during even difficult weather conditions, during Azaan, get Muezzins to call on people to ‘Al-salatu fi rihalikum’ (pray at home) instead of “Haya ala Salah” (come to prayer)”.
They requested the court to issue order the government to test 10,000 people daily saying evidence from South Korea and other countries has demonstrated that mass testing is critical to contain the virus.
Petitioners urged the court to issue directives to government to provide free masks and hand sanitizers to the public and initiate a mass disinfection campaign in all cities in addition to a Mass Media Campaign of creating awareness about defeating Coronavirus which they said will require large scale changes in behavior patterns.
Seeking the court intervention in the matter, the petitioners requested for directives to government to close all borders with limited inter-provincial travel besides immediately setup Coronavirus treatment centers all over the Country.
They also requested to expand hospital capacity, nationalize private hospitals, make new makeshift hospitals in schools, boost production and import of medical equipment, recruit retired health care professionals, start training of a large number of medical students and staff about basics of dealing with the virus patients, supplement salaries of health workers by 50 percent.
The petitioners also requested the court to issue directives to government to properly facilitate Taftan pilgrims saying bulk of Pakistan’s cases thus far are from the returning Iran pilgrims who were stationed in Taftan.
“We must ensure sufficient resources, personnel and high-quality quarantine and isolation facilities for Taftan pilgrims stationed in Sukkur, DG Khan, DI Khan, Quetta, and elsewhere”, the petitioners submitted.
Seeking top court directives for government to setup a Workers’ support fund the petitioners claimed as millions of workers will be affected by this crisis, adding a workers’ support fund must be established – possibly through an expansion of Benazir Income Support Program – to provide direct income support payments to workers affected by the shutdown.
The petitioners also requested the court to issue directives for an urgent action to secure katchi abadis and refugee settlements Katchi abadis with their high density, poor sanitation, water shortages, and proximity to sewage could become death traps and flash points for Coronavirus expansion.
They also requested to ask the government to release prisoner from jails all over the Country for people who have committed minor offenses saying jails are notorious incubators and amplifiers of infectious diseases, however, they suggested that rest of the prisoners in the jails for other than minor offences be quarantined for the period of the emergency.
Petitioner also prayed for an order to the government to allocate funds for combating the virus and appeal to global allies in the developed world to provide medical and financial donations, applying for IMF loans, negotiate debt relief from donors, taxing of the super-rich, applying for loans, cut in unnecessary budget allocations.
“Order the Government to start rationing of food before we run out of essential food items as panic buying, stocking of food and hoarding has begun at a very large scale. Take strict action against the hoarders”, the petitioners prayed.