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Pakistan Marriage Hall Association demonstrates against restrictions


Pakistan Marriage Hall Association demonstrates against restrictions

Photo: PTI

Pakistan’s Marriage Hall Association (MHA) will lead nationwide protests today against ongoing government public gathering restrictions that forbid the operation of marriage halls.

The protests come as the country struggles to contain a renewed spike in COVID-19 cases after initial restrictions were eased in May to allow certain public gathering activities. Since early June, Pakistan has reported over 100,000 new cases and the official death toll has doubled.

The MHA demonstrations highlight the difficulty PM Imran Khan’s government faces in balancing public health and economic concerns. The majority of workers in Pakistan’s reeling economy rely on day-to-day earnings and depend on the economy reopening. The MHA estimates one million people have lost their jobs in Karachi alone. However, health authorities estimate the country could record 1.2 million total cases by the end of July.

Expect the Khan government to continue its “smart lockdown” strategy of easing restrictions nationally but imposing local lockdowns in COVID-19 hotspots identified in 20 major cities. However, with other major sectors, such as restaurants, also announcing protests, pressure will increase on Khan to relent. The PM’s public statements strongly oppose further national lockdowns, so it is likely that MHA demands for reopening of marriage halls will be met.

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