Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Monday that the ulema not only endorsed Prime Minister Imran Khan's strategy to fight against the coronavirus pandemic but also assured him of their complete cooperation.
The SAPM was speaking to the media alongside Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noorul Haq Qadri after a meeting between the prime minister and religious scholars.
"We have to face and fight coronavirus. At the same time, we have to ensure that daily life continues to function. We, as a country, keep fighting the virus, unemployment and hunger — this is the thinking behind the prime minister's coronavirus strategy at the moment. And this strategy has been strongly acknowledged and endorsed by the respected ulema," Awan said.
According to Awan, ulema appreciated prime minister's decision to reopen mosques during Ramazan, adding that they called his decision "Islam friendly" and "humanity friendly".
Awan said that the prime minister, on ulema's suggestion, will issue directives to Pakistan Television (PTV) and others to start religious tele-schools for students of religious seminaries and madressahs so that these students, along with others, can also learn from home during the coronavirus lockdown.
Awan also announced that the prime minister will call for a nationwide 'Day of Taubah' on Friday to seek Allah's forgiveness and assistance in the country's fight against the "unprecedented" pandemic.
The prime minister assured the ulema that he will direct relevant ministries to prepare a plan to offer interest-free loans to madressahs to deal with the financial fallout from the virus outbreak. Additionally, he asked his economic advisers to look seriously into Mufti Taqi Usmani and Mufti Muneebur Rehman's suggestion of having an interest-free economy, she added.
Furthermore, the prime minister agreed to offer monetary relaxation in utility bills for mosques and madressahs, she revealed.
In a statement released after the meeting, Maulana Hanif Jalandhari of Wafaqul Madaris Al Arabia, revealed that the prime minister agreed to release religious leaders and others arrested for violating restrictions during the ongoing lockdown.
In turn, the premier requested the ulema to ensure implementation of the 20-point Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to follow during Ramazan announced by President Arif Alvi recently.
The president had recently met with prominent ulema and religious leaders at Aiwan-i-Sadr to build consensus and form a plan for congregational prayers and Taraweeh during Ramazan.
"Ramazan is a month of worship and Muslims love this month a lot. It was necessary that government's recommendations and ulema's recommendations be collected before any decision was taken," the president had said as he outlined the 20-point plan.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, meanwhile, in his daily press briefing on coronavirus, warned the nation that mosques could become Covid-19 hotspots if SOPs aren't adhered to during Ramazan.
"All worshippers will need to take precautions outlined by President Alvi when they frequent mosques during Ramazan. If we don't, our mosques are in danger of becoming Covid-19 hotspots," Zafar warned, adding that ulema had assured the prime minister of full cooperation in this regard.
Additional reporting by Javed Hussain