KARACHI: On the 22nd of March, the government of Sindh declared “a complete ban on the movement of people” with certain cited exemptions in order to impose extreme measures for containing the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Other governments soon followed suit with their own partial lockdown measures and thereafter we entered a state where restrictions were enforced throughout the country.
The imposition of the lockdown was followed by chaotic scenes as government officials were at times pleading citizens to stay indoors, besides exercising brute force in order to ensure that the general public complied with lockdown measures. Other public officials could be seen policing roads and marketplaces to seek justification from those who were not under quarantine. In Lahore alone, as many as 2,105 individuals have been booked under Section 188 of Pakistan Penal Code for disobeying restriction orders.
While the bona fide intent of the federal and provincial governments in promulgating these measures is not in doubt, as a citizen of Pakistan it is important that one assess the legal validity of many a measure adopted as part of the lockdown strategy. One must remain vigilant of the government’s encroachment of citizen’s rights, regardless of how appealing the immediate benefit of such measures may be.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2020.