Almost all 371 members of the Punjab Assembly are at risk of contracting the deadly coronavirus as the speaker of the provincial house and senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, continues to chair assembly sessions despite coming into contact with Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.


As per the details, Mazari tested positive for the novel virus days after he returned from Dubai by a special Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight along with his two cousins just over a week ago. After landing at the Multan airport, they reportedly left for Lahore without being quarantined there.


“As their departure was against the official Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in wake of COVID-19 outbreak, Mazari had told a joint team of the district administration and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that they would isolate themselves,” sources told The Current, adding that the deputy speaker, however, continued with his routine in Lahore and came into contact with dozens of people, including Elahi, his son Moonis Elahi, as well as property tycoons Syed Rehan Gilani and Syed Salman Gilani.

While Mazari claims he is following all SOPs and has stayed in self-isolation since after returning from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) despite his first test coming out negative, the above picture from days leading to the deputy speaker’s second test that came out positive, as well as an album shared to his social media account on May 4, suggests otherwise.

“He interacted with several people, including his friends, colleagues and Punjab Assembly staffers, until his second test confirmed that he had contracted the virus. All those people he met must have come into contact with hundreds of others,” sources said.

Speaking to The Current, Mazari confirmed all developments while clarifying his position. “I landed in Multan where I was received by the district administration. I told them how I had to rush to Lahore for a very important official meeting and was allowed to do so.”

He said he coordinated with the officials concerned in Lahore and quarantined himself along with his cousins at a local hotel as per government SOPs. “I stayed there until I took the test that came out negative. I shared my reports with the hotel management and government officials concerned, who allowed me to leave.”

“I was congratulated by Pervaiz Elahi Sahib and others over my reports and told to resume discharging my duties… and so I did,” the deputy speaker said, confirming that he went on to attend the meetings this scribe highlighted.

When asked why did he not follow government instructions as per which any international passenger who tests negative “will be advised compulsory self-isolation to complete a 14-day period”, Mazari said he did what he was told to and wasn’t aware of “any changes to the SOPs that have now been made”.

“It wasn’t until the first week of May that I tested positive, which was seven or eight days after my return to the country. Since then, I am in complete isolation and am doing fine.”

He went on to say that he had informed the Punjab Assembly speaker of his infection and advised him to get tested. “I think Chaudhry Sahib has also taken the test. He, undoubtedly, won’t take it lightly and ensure all precautionary measures.”

Mazari also announced that once he has recovered, he will be donating blood plasma to help critical patients fight the virus. “We must take care of ourselves and others. That’s the only way to defeat coronavirus,” he said.


While Moonis Elahi is now in Gujrat, his father, who also met Mazari last week, is going on to chair the sessions of the Punjab Assembly for the past four days.

When contacted, Pervaiz Elahi’s close aide, who is also a member of the speaker’s personal staff, Chaudhry Iqbal, confirmed that the speaker had not isolated himself.

To a question, he said that Elahi had come into contact with Mazari but neither had he gone into self-quarantine nor was he planning to do so. “He is chairing a 150-member session of the Punjab Assembly right now.”

It may be noted that as per the SOPs for holding assembly sessions amid the COVID-19 outbreak, only 100 out of 371 MPAs are being allowed to attend the session each day so as to ensure social distancing inside the house where, so far, at least three staffers have tested positive for the virus.

The ratio of 52 and 48 has been set which means that only 52 MPAs from the government and 48 MPAs from the opposition benches can attend the proceedings.

The entry of guests and staff of MPAs is also completely banned while only the minister concerned will answer the questions of lawmakers during the question-hour.

The assembly secretariat has also installed a disinfection tunnel at the entry gate while lawmakers will use masks and gloves to protect themselves from the virus. Only those MPAs will be asked to attend the proceeding who have their questions on the agenda item.