KARACHI: With a ban imposed on all kind of religious processions and gatherings by the Sindh government, the Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari appealed to the people on Thursday to follow the government guidelines to contain the spread of the coronavirus and offer their Friday prayers at home and hold limited mourning gatherings indoors on Yaum-i-Ali, being observed today.

The Sindh home department late on Wednesday issued a notification clarifying that religious processions and gatherings were prohibited in the province, in the wake of confusion about restrictions on them. The restrictions on religious gatherings, including taraweeh prayers, rallies and processions, that were announced on April 23 would remain in place, it said.

Meanwhile, PPP chairman Bhutto-Zardari in a video statement appealed to the people to stay at home and offer their prayers and observe mourning at home as the country’s health system could not afford pressure of a spike in Covid-19 cases.

“I appeal you all to offer Friday prayers and observe Yaum-i-Ali-related mourning at home,” he said. “While staying at home you would not only protect yourself but also save lives of your loved ones. Similarly, if we don’t follow the guidelines and precautionary measures, we would be putting extra pressure on our doctors, nurses, paramedics and health workers who are doing their best to save lives.”

In the late night move, the police started placing containers in the areas around Saddar and arteries connecting it with M. A. Jinnah Road apparently to provide security to a procession expected to be taken out today [Friday] to mark Yaum-i-Ali. Though there was no word from the Sindh government and the city police, sources said that as there were strong chances that a procession would be taken out despite the ban, the police had made arrangements to keep the traffic flow normal through alternative routes.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2020