Hearing suo motu case on Pakistan’s response to COVID-19, CJ claims government ‘not doing any work’ to curb spread of virus
The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday slammed Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, and directed the federal government to remove him from the post.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court—led by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed issued the orders while hearing a suo motu case on the measures being taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Pakistan. Addressing the Attorney General of Pakistan, the chief justice claimed that the government’s response to the pandemic had been nonexistent. “There is an army of ministers and advisers in place but there is no work being done,” said Ahmed, as he alleged that the federal government had retained “corrupt people” as advisers and special assistants.
“I cannot understand what kind of a team is working on the coronavirus outbreak,” he added. In this vein, the chief justice questioned the expertise of Dr. Mirza, and ordered his removal from the post of de facto health minister.
The CJP also questioned when Parliament would legislate on how best to cope with the crisis. “All other countries have passed laws to deal with the emergency,” he said. “The state has jobs other than just holding rallies,” he said. “Prime Minister’s cabinet has become ineffective. He seems distant from the rest. All the provinces are doing whatever they desire,” he added.
Last week, the Chief Justice of Pakistan issued notices to the attorney general, the health secretary, and the interior secretary over the federal government’s failure to provide adequate measures to combat coronavirus.
On Saturday, the government informed the apex court that special counters had been set up at all major international airports, and border crossings strengthened at Taftan, Chaman and Torkham, to curb the spread of the virus. It also submitted a report informing the court that 207 hospitals in all major cities and 154 districts across Pakistan had been identified for isolation of suspected patients of the coronavirus.
According to the report, quarantine centers have been established in the federal capital with 300 beds for COVID-19 patients. It said 83 thermal scanners had also been installed in different places across the country.
The court was informed that 13,000 healthcare facilities across Pakistan had been entrusted with collecting surveillance data. It was also told that public awareness messages were being regularly disseminated to all modes of media to apprise the public about the threat posed by COVID-19, and the preventative measures needed to combat it.
Pakistan currently has more than 5,300 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 93 deaths and 1,095 recoveries. The highest number of cases have been reported from Punjab province—2,594—while Sindh is in second place with 1,411 cases.
In addition to Chief Justice Ahmed, Justices Umar Ata Bandial, Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Sajjad Ali Shah and Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed were also part of the bench hearing the suo motu case.