The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday turned down a plea for permission to open parks and other recreational spots across the province on the occasion of Eidul Fitr. An LHC bench headed by Chief Justice Qasim Khan was hearing the constitutional petition seeking directives for the provincial authorities to allow parks and recreational spots to open during the Eid holidays.
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The judge also asked if the petitioner wanted the court to issue a license to kill children across the province. “Do you ask me for a license to kill children,” the top high court judge asked the litigant. Therefore, the LHC rejects plea seeking reopening of parks, it added.
He said the Supreme Court is already hearing the suo motu case regarding the coronavirus pandemic. “The coronavirus situation has already become serious,” the judge remarked, questioning how can the court give permission for opening parks.
Parks and recreational spots across the country were shut in the month of March as part of preventive measures to stem the spread of the highly contagious infection.
It is worth noting that the apex court not only ordered the reopening of shopping malls but also noted that Pakistan “is not … seriously affected” by Covid-19 and that there is no pandemic in the country. However, Pakistan has had at least 43,966 confirmed cases and more than 900 deaths since March, and the numbers keep rising. At least 500 Pakistani healthcare workers have been infected too, which shows that the country has been hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.
SC refuses to seek an opinion from epidemiologists
The Supreme Court also ignored the plea of AGP Khalid Jawed Khan to seek an opinion from a team of epidemiologists for gauging real threat level and amend its last order in which the apex court held that Pakistan was not affected seriously with the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a medical emergency, therefore, an opinion of medical experts be sought in a similar fashion as the court did in the controversy regarding Zakat distribution,” the AGP argued while emphasizing that none of them was qualified enough to grasp the real danger being posed by the outbreak of global magnitude.
“All the experts are cautioning that the coming month of June may witness a spike in the coronavirus cases, the outcome of which may be horrendous,” the AGP feared, but regretted that the people were not taking the pandemic seriously.
However, the five-judge bench in its order stated that although the AGP and AG-Sindh had requested the apex court to constitute a team of doctors to seek their opinion, the court, for the time being, did not find this essential as the government functionaries were alive and could do whatever they could in accordance with the law.
Notably, experts in Pakistan have warned against the premature easing of lockdown restrictions, fearing an exponential rise in infections. One healthcare worker said: “Everyone’s scared and exhausted. But we are fighting, we are pushing the limits. All we ask is that the government and people understand that they can help us help them by staying at home and providing us quality protective gear.”