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Pakistan using COVID-19 quarantine excuse to lock up anti-establishment lawyers in Gilgit

News Agencies | Updated on: 12 April 2020, 12:45 IST
Mohammad Bakar Mehdi

The Pakistan government and its intelligence agency, the Inter-State Intelligence (ISI), are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to lock up anti-establishment lawyers in the region justifying it as "quarantine".

Speaking exclusively with ANI, senior lawyer Mohammad Bakar Mehdi from Astor confirmed that lawyers are being locked up under the excuse of quarantine. "Their samples were collected for testing and all of them have tested negative. But they are still in detention," he said.

"This is not a solution to the problem," Mehdi stated further.

"The authorities need to provide us with proper medicines and treatment facilities to contain the spread of the virus," the lawyer added.

Mehdi said that PoK, prior to the pandemic outbreak, also lacked appropriate employment and education opportunities, but following the virus spread, people in the region have started facing poverty-like circumstances "where things are gradually becoming out of control".

"There is no relief fund for us. I won't say that masks and sanitizers were not distributed but in fewer quantities," he noted

"The coronavirus has taken a toll over the lives of the people here as well as the local economy. Amid such circumstances, neither the Pakistan government nor the state government is taking any measure to stain the virus spread," Mehdi said.

"We request the government to take some actions here and set up a medical facility. We are your people. You come here to ask for votes. We are your responsibility," the lawyer told ANI.

He also said that around 200-300 lawyers have signed on a letter addressed to the state government requesting the provision of the above facilities in the occupied-territory.

Already, 216 positive coronavirus cases have been reported from Gilgit Baltistan whereas 34 infections from the deadly virus are reported in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.


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First published: 12 April 2020, 12:45 IST