New Delhi: In clear defiance of the government directives, hardline clerics in Pakistan have announced to resume congregational prayers in mosques, even as the coronavirus cases in the country rose to nearly 6,000. The government has banned prayer congregations of more than five people as part of its measures to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.Also Read - Shoaib Akhtar Insulted, Asked to Leave LIVE TV Show Midway by Host; Video Goes Viral | WATCH

Despite the government’s pleas to observe social distancing, a group of hardline clerics held a meeting in Karachi to discuss the issue of ban on such prayers and made the announcement before media at the Karachi Press Club. Also Read - T20 World Cup 2021 Points Table After Pakistan vs New Zealand Match; How does a Pakistan Win Benefit India? Explained

Mufti Taqi Usmani, a religious scholar and former judge of the Federal Sharia Court, who was part of the consultation, said it was decided that five-time prayers as well Friday prayer would be held in mosques. He, however, said that the precautionary measures of the government would be taken to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Also Read - Rajasthan Teacher Celebrates Pak Win Against India in T20 World Cup Through WhatsApp Status, Gets Fired

The clerics’ decision came as the government announced to extend the lockdown for another two weeks until April 30. Those present at a press conference after the meeting included representatives from the Jamiat-e-ulema Islam, Jamiat-e-ulema Pakistan, Jamaat-i-Islami and Tanzeem-e-Islami among other religious parties.

The decision came despite the announcement by Prime Minister Imran Khan to meet the clerics in order to discuss the issue of gathering in mosques in the holy month of Ramazan which will start from April 25.

On Monday, over 53 senior clerics of Rawalpindi and Islamabad belonging to the Wafaqul Madaris al Arabia held a meeting in Jamia Darul Uloom Zakria here to discuss the ban on prayer congregations, the Dawn News reported.

The Monday meeting — attended by clerics representing various seminaries, banned groups, proscribed persons and political and non-political parties — warned the authorities against the ban and said government leaders should abide by religious norms and seek forgiveness.

The warning came before the government could come up with a plan to curb the spread of COVID-19 during the holy month of Ramazan.

Pir Azizur Rehman Hazarvi, president of the Jamia Darul Uloom Zakaria in Islamabad, said, “The closure of mosques, shutting down Friday prayers and Taraweeh is unacceptable to the countrymen.”