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‘Mishandling Of Pilgrims Returning From Iran Worsened Coronavirus Crisis’

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A think-tank has said in its report that the government’s mishandling pf pilgrims in Taftan worsened the coronavirus situation in the country. Titled ‘Covid-19 in Pakistan: The Politics of Scapegoating Zaireen’, the report was released by the Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI). It said that around 7,000 pilgrims returned from Iran after the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. The report deals with the question of handling of pilgrims at the Taftan border crossing, how they were moved to their home provinces and the political and media perspectives pertaining to their return.

IPI Executive Director Sajjad Bokhari said that undercurrents of sectarian bias and anti-Iran sentiments were present during the controversy. He termed the government’s role in handling the pilgrims’ issue ‘irresponsible’, adding that it could have ‘consequences for a society with a delicate sectarian balance’. Further, the report said that the government tried to shirk responsibility by falsely claiming that the area was deserted and a remote border outpost.

“As a matter of fact, it is a regular border crossing on a well-frequented land route between Pakistan and Iran which ought to have been better equipped and well prepared,” the report stated.

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