On this Eid Al-Adha, no Qurbani without face mask

A man wears a protective mask as he sells cows for the upcoming Eid Al-Adha sacrifice, at the cattle market, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Peshawar on July 7, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 11 July 2020

On this Eid Al-Adha, no Qurbani without face mask

  • Cattle markets will be set up away from cities and buyers will have to wear face masks and gloves
  • The National Command and Operation Center also wants compulsory testing for animal handlers

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) prepared guidelines regarding the sale of sacrificial animals on Eid Al-Adha after consulting different stakeholders, senior government functionaries informed Arab News on Saturday, adding that the instructions were specifically designed to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus and would be implemented with the help of district administrations.

The NCOC on Friday suggested setting up cattle markets about two to four kilometers outside of cities. It also insisted on compulsory testing of animal handlers and banned potential buyers from entering these marketplaces without face masks.

The NCOC, the top government institution responsible for preparing a coherent national strategy to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, also limited the timings of cattle markets, saying they would only be allowed to operate during the day. It also called for social distancing and said that thermal scanners must be installed at all entry points of animal markets.

“Keeping in mind our experience of Eid al-Fitr, we will have to be quite vigilant this time,” said Dr. Muhammad Zaeem Zia, Islamabad’s district health officer who regularly attends NCOC meetings. “It is not enough to issue precautionary measures since such guidelines also need to be properly implemented.”

“The health ministry and local administrations are working very closely to prevent the spread of the virus during the sale and purchase of animals,” he continued. “The guidelines issued by the health ministry and NCOC are for the whole country and all provinces must abide by them.”

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat said his administration had also provided its input to the NCOC during the preparation of these guidelines.

“We gave our recommendations to the NCOC and suggested ways to implement the guidelines. We also constituted a joint team of the Capital Development Authority, Municipal Corporation, Islamabad administration and police,” he told Arab News, adding that elderly people and children would not be allowed to enter animal markets.

“The administration will ensure implementation of physical distancing, wearing of masks and gloves, frequent disinfection of places and other precautionary measures,” Shafqaat continued.

President of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan Dr. Bushra Jameel told Arab News that it was essential to restrict unnecessary movement of animals and people under the circumstances to curb the spread of the infectious respiratory disease.

“It is a good step to move these animal markets outside of cities,” she said, “but the government should provide necessary facilities to people who want to buy these animals. It is also essential to ensure social distancing and implement other precautionary measures. Otherwise, the country may experience yet another surge of infections.”

“I have been buying animals ahead of Eid Al-Adha for the last ten years. However, it seems that it will be a tough and expensive experience this time since we will have to go quite far away to make our purchase,” said Usman Zahoor, a resident of Rawalpindi. “I wonder if setting up these markets so far away from cities will prevent the virus from entering them.”

“It would have been much better if the government had decided to use empty spaces within cities – such as parks etc – to set up animal markets,” he continued. “It would have made life much easier for customers as well.”


At least 30 injured in grenade attack in Pakistan at Kashmir rally

Updated 05 August 2020

At least 30 injured in grenade attack in Pakistan at Kashmir rally

  • The attack was claimed by Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army, a separatist outfit that has become active in the past months
  • Organized by Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious right party, the rally was called off after the attack

KARACHI: At least 30 people were injured in a grenade attack on a rally in Karachi on Wednesday, as Pakistan marked the first anniversary of India’s revocation of Kashmir’s semi-autonomy.
The wounded were rushed to different hospitals, where one was in a critical condition, an official from the provincial health department said.
“A grenade was lobbed in the rally, causing several casualties,” Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon told Reuters.
The attack was claimed by Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army, a separatist outfit that has become active in the past months.
In June, four people were killed including two soldiers in three consecutive explosions claimed by the SRA.
The group wants Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, to break from the Pakistani federation. It has also announced its alliance with the Balochistan Liberation Army, a militant group fighting for greater autonomy for the Balochistan region in southwestern Pakistan.
The attack took place as similar rallies were held across the country. The Karachi rally, organized by Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious right party, was called off after the attack.
Last August, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Jammu and Kashmir — India’s only Muslim-majority state — of its special rights and split it into two federally administered territories.
The government said the change was necessary to develop the revolt-torn region and integrate it with the rest of India, but it infuriated many Kashmiris as well as neighboring Pakistan.
Kashmir is claimed in full by India and Pakistan, which have gone to war twice over it, and both rule parts of it.
Indian authorities deployed troops and curbed public movement on Wednesday to stop potential protests in Kashmir.