No transparency in govt measures to combat virus, says CJP Gulzar Ahmed
Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Monday held an hearing of a suo motu case related to the situation arising out of the coronavirus crisis and the steps being taken by the health authorities to curb the spread of the epidemic.
A five-member larger bench of the apex court — headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed — heard the case. Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed were also on the bench.
health department
submit responses
In the hearing held Monday, the Attorney-General of Pakistan, Khalid Javed, told the court that the National Disaster Management Authority and the health department had submitted separate responses to court over the measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus.
"The Zakat department has not submitted a response," CJP Ahmed observed. "The queries of the court with regards to the matters of the Zakat department have been replied to only with references to certain laws," he added.
"The federal government gives the Zakat fund to the provinces. The provincial authorities are responsible for distributing the funds. A big chunk of the fund is spent on administrative matters," he added.
'Five hotels in Islamabad turned into quarantine centres'
"Five hotels in Islamabad have been turned into quarantine centres. Free virus services are being provided at Haji Camp and Pak-China Centre," Secretary Health Tanweer Qureshi told the court during the hearing.
"Ensure the availability of food and other essential services at the quarantine centres around the country," CJP Ahmed told the government officials present in the courtroom.
"The Taftan quarantine centre was a big nightmare. The government seems to be spending money, but it is not immediately clear where the money is being spent," CJP Ahmed noted.
SC expresses
dissatisfaction with
performance of authorities
During the last hearing, the apex court had expressed dissatisfaction on the performance of the authorities to deal with the ongoing health crisis and questioned credentials of Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Health Dr Zafar Mirza.
The apex court had also directed the federal government, as well as the provincial governments, Islamabad Capital Territory and Gilgit Baltistan, to take effective measures and formulate unified policies to deal with the pandemic and submit a comprehensive report on the next date of hearing.
CJP Ahmed had remarked that the government had not done anything at this point to stem the spread of the virus.
“There is an army of ministers and advisors in place but no work is being done,” CJP Ahmed observed. He also alleged that “corrupt people” have been kept as advisors in the government.
The bench also noted that there was no harmony and coordination among the provinces and the Centre to formulate a joint response.