Pakistani educational institutions, wedding halls reopen today after six-month break over COVID-19

A teacher checks the body temperature of students at a government school in Lahore on September 15, 2020 after the educational institutes were reopened nearly six months after the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. (AFP)
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Updated 15 September 2020

Pakistani educational institutions, wedding halls reopen today after six-month break over COVID-19

  • Some 300,000 schools were closed in March, putting over 50 million school and university-going Pakistanis at the risk of falling behind
  • Masks are mandatory for students and teachers, sanitizers should be available at school gate, according to government guidelines 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday reopened schools, colleges and universities as well as wedding halls across the country, ending a six-month long closure imposed in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

All higher educational institutions including universities, intermediate and professional colleges reopen from September 15, today, while grades six through eighth grade will reopen on September 23 and primary schools will resume classes from September 30.

According to health guidelines issued by the government, masks are mandatory for all students and teachers, and sanitizers should be available at the gate of the school or university. Morning assemblies will not be held and students’ temperature checked before entering classrooms where chairs are to be set a safe distance apart. 

On Tuesday, Pakistan reported six coronavirus-related deaths. Since the first case was reported in March, the country of 220 million people has recorded 302,424 infections and 6,389 deaths.

“Let us welcome our children and students on the first day of opening of educational institutions,” Dr Faisal Sultan, Pakistan’s defacto health chief said in a tweet. “Please don't forget basic protective steps. Masks, reduced density in classes, hand hygiene. Parents, school administrators, teachers, students - all together.”

 

In Pakistan, over 300,000 schools were closed in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

While access to education was already a problem in Pakistan – 22.8 million of Pakistan’s over 70 million children are out of school – the coronavirus outbreak put over 50 million school and university-going Pakistanis at the risk of falling behind, according to Pakistan’s education ministry. 

Wedding halls will also open today, Tuesday, with standard operating procedures in place, including that only close family members and relatives be allowed to attend, people don’t hug or shake hands and always wear face masks, halls only fill up to 50 percent capacity and visitors are checked for fevers with a thermal gun before entering. 


Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

Updated 18 September 2020

Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

  • Under the plan, the government will set up 12 markets along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier
  • Prime minister approves setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by February next year

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has decided to set up markets along its borders with neighboring Afghanistan and Iran to boost trade opportunities, foster peace and check smuggling, the commerce ministry said on Friday.
Main crossing point into Pakistan for both goods and people from Iran and Afghan also serve as major smuggling routes.
“The border markets will help create job opportunities and establish a peaceful relationship with the neighboring countries,” Aisha Humera Moriani, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, told Arab News.
Under the plan, the government is establishing 18 markets: 12 along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier.
In a meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as a pilot project, to be functional by February next year.
Moriani said the markets would contribute to local development and help the government address “smuggling and boost legal trade across the border.”
Pakistan is fencing its borders with Afghanistan and Iran to check cross-border militancy, illegal movement of people and smuggling, which is a major source of income for people living along border towns and villages.
Sardar Shoukat Popalzai, President Balochistan Economic Forum, said the government should have built “common markets” along the Afghanistan and Iran borders with the mutual consent of the neighboring governments to maximize benefits for people on both sides of the borders.
“The government has not released a feasibility report, if there is any, of these markets as to how are they going to help the local population,” he told Arab News.
Popalzai said Balochistan border areas were sparsely populated and establishment of a few shopping terminals would “hardly make any difference in the lives of the people.”
He said cross-border smuggling was a major source of income for people living in the frontier areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, so “this requires a lot more effort than mere setting up of markets to check this undocumented economy.”
Zubair Motiwala, chairman of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the government should establish cold storages and warehouses in the border markets to boost the export of perishable and other items to the neighboring countries.
“The taxation system on the exports and imports of different items through the land routes should be well defined to encourage businessmen and locals to boost the legal trade with Afghanistan and Iran,” he said.