The Politics of Scapegoating Zaireen for Covid-19

Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) started in Wuhan (China) in December 2019/January 2020 and rapidly spread to other countries. All countries sharing borders with Pakistan had reported the presence of the deadly infectious disease by the last week of February 2020.

The outbreak of the disease in Iran, which was first reported on February 19, 2020, and then spread aggressively, was of serious concern for Pakistan because of a large number of Pakistanis visiting Iran for religious tourism (Ziaraat). Around the time the epidemic unfolded in Iran, it is estimated that nearly 7,500 Pakistan pilgrims (locally called Zaireen) were visiting the country.

The first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Pakistan were reported on February 26, 2020, among two pilgrims, who had returned from Iran. This fueled worries in Pakistan about the import of the disease from its western neighbour. Read More…

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The Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) is a nonpartisan, independent policy research institute based in Islamabad. Our goal is to undertake in-depth analysis of challenges and choices confronting Pakistan. We aim to help policymakers and public better understand the world, region and Pakistan-specific challenges and opportunities. We make efforts to engage government, civil society, private sector, media, academia in open debates and dialogue on the most significant developments in national and international affairs. We envision contributing to policy-making through periodic policy-papers putting forward policy-recommendations developed in collaboration with experts and stakeholders in each area. IPI takes no institutional position on policy issues.


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