Karachi reserves graveyards for COVID-19 victims

In this file photo, employees of the Edhi center lay unidentified bodies to rest at the Edhi graveyard in Karachi on June 8, 2011. (REUTERS)
Short Url
Updated 31 March 2020

Karachi reserves graveyards for COVID-19 victims

  • The government is acquiring land from private housing societies to enhance the capacity of five graveyards in the city
  • Eight people have so far died in Sindh while 294 have been infected by the virus in Karachi alone

KARACHI: Fearing a spike in the number of deaths caused by the coronavirus pandemic, authorities in Pakistan’s commercial hub, Karachi, have reserved five cemeteries for the victims of the virus, officials told Arab News on Wednesday.
“Today 45 new cases of local transmission have been reported in Karachi, which has taken the total number of patients in the province of Sindh to 627,” Meeran Yousuf, spokesperson for the health department, told Arab News, adding that COVID-19 had affected 294 people in Karachi alone and a majority of them had contracted the infection locally.
So far, health officials in Sindh have confirmed eight virus-related deaths in the province.
The places reserved for the burial of coronavirus victims are: Muhammad Shah, Surjani, Mawach Goth, Qur’angi No. 6 and Gulshan-e-Zia graveyards.
“To cope with the situation, we have reserved five graveyards for the burial of coronavirus victims,” Wasim Akhter, mayor of Karachi, told Arab News, adding that the designated graveyards had the capacity of 1,000 to 5,000 graves.
However, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s director graveyards, Iqbal Pervez, said that the designated cemeteries were already full and their capacity was being enhanced.
Karachi has 203 graveyards, and many of them have run out of space, he informed, adding: “We are trying prepare ourselves for a situation where we may have to accommodate a large number of coronavirus victims by negotiating with private housing societies and requesting them to add some of their reserved lands to these graveyards.”
Karachi is a metropolis of 15 million people, though the figure was disputed by various stakeholders after the 2017 census who claimed it was deliberately under-reported and could be as high as 23 million.
The city reported the first coronavirus case of the country in the last week of February and is now reporting the largest number of cases of local transmission.
Karachi is also called the country’s economic engine and is currently under lockdown.


Aviation minister’s comments on ‘fake’ licenses caused ‘international embarrassment’ — Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

Updated 01 July 2020

Aviation minister’s comments on ‘fake’ licenses caused ‘international embarrassment’ — Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

  • Aviation Minister Khan said last week 262 pilots suspected of dodging their exams would be grounded, a move that caused global concern
  • “Minister should never have made such a blanket claim publicly without being privy to all facts,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari says

KARACHI: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairman of a major Pakistani opposition party, said on Wednesday comments by the aviation minister that 30% of civilian commercial pilots in Pakistan had ‘fake’ licenses had damaged the country’s aviation industry and caused Pakistan international embarrassment.

Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan announced last week the grounding of 262 airline pilots suspected of dodging their exams, a move that caused global concern.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has since suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) authorization to fly to the bloc for six months, a blow to the carrier’s operations.

The United Arab Emirates is also seeking to verify the credentials of Pakistani pilots and engineers employed in its airlines, as international suspicions over “dubious” qualifications of Pakistani pilots mount.

“The minister should never have made such a blanket claim publicly, without being privy to all facts,” Zardari, who is chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, told Arab News on Wednesday. “His irresponsible statement has put hundreds of careers at risk and caused the nation international embarrassment.”

Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Aviation Division spokesman Abdul Sattar Khokhar did not return several calls seeking comment for this piece. Khan’s press conference scheduled for Wednesday evening was canceled.

Pakistani airline pilots and their union have raised questions about the government list of pilots with “dubious” documents, saying it is full of discrepancies.

PIA has said the list showed discrepancies once the airlines received it. Thirty-six of the 141 had either retired or moved out, it said. Air Blue said seven of the pilots on the list no longer worked for the airline.

The pilots and their union have rejected the list and demanded a judicial investigation.

“The events over the last several days are very worrisome,” PIA Senior Staff Association (SASA) secretary general, Safdar Anjum, told Arab News. “This is [causing] irreparable loss.”

The action on the “dubious” licenses was prompted by the preliminary investigation report on a PIA airliner crash in Karachi that killed 97 people in May. It found the plane’s pilots failed to follow standard procedures and disregarded alarms.