In times of
a pandemic breakout, citizens look up to their government for direction. But in
Pakistan, the Imran Khan government has no plan and no direction to deal with
the coronavirus, or COVID-19. In fact, Pakistan’s 70-year-old president Arif Alvi
even visited China, at a time when everyone is avoiding the country. He even
shook hands, a gesture that is akin to an invitation to death in these times.
Why? To display Pakistan’s solidarity with its BFF. He was the first head of
state to visit Beijing after the coronavirus outbreak.
claiming to learn from the Chinese way of handling the crisis, there is no
on-ground action in Pakistan that supports the claim.
locked down several cities, including Wuhan — the epicentre of the outbreak —
in Hubei province and banned travel to contain the spread of coronavirus. But
in Pakistan, even after a significant surge in the number of positive COVID-19
cases, there is no government order to lock down the affected areas. There are
no travel restrictions.
the Imran Khan government thinks that allowing international flights “only” at
Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore airports, which are the bigger cities, is some
kind of a foolproof way to stop the virus spread, knowing fully well that the
screening process for passengers is faulty and there is no facility to
quarantine those affected.
Out of the
total 296 coronavirus cases, the southern province of Sindh is the worst hit
with 208 positive cases.
Of Pakistan’s Worry
surge is due to the negligence of the Imran Khan government, which didn’t
properly test and quarantine thousands of pilgrims arriving from Iran in the
border city of Taftan, Balochistan. The pilgrims were packed together in
unhygienic tents without medical facilities and access to clean bathrooms.
Unsurprisingly, it became a nursery for coronavirus. Sindh officials shared how
most of the newer cases were of travellers coming from the so-called
quarantined zone in Taftan. This is how lack of seriousness and the absence of
any sound policy bears fruit.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, nothing was amiss. In his address to the nation on
the issue of coronavirus, he paid rich tributes to the Balochistan government
and the Pakistan Army for their work at Taftan. If the plan is to win the fight
against coronavirus with delusion, then, like the 1971 war, we might have won
the COVID-19 war already.
leaders are telling people that COVID-19 pandemic is a serious problem and they
must remain extra cautious — that there is a cause for worry. Even at home,
Sindh chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has been sharing numbers and telling
people that they need to worry — remain indoors as much as possible.
Imran Khan can say with extreme casualness: “Aap Ne Ghabrana Nahi Hai (don’t panic)”.
Only 3 per cent of people tested positive, who are old and already have
multiple health issues, are mostly at risk — the remaining 97 per cent people
recover, the PM argued. So, citizens above 65 or those younger — but with
various health conditions — don’t have a reason to worry, right?
Learning From Others
to understand why the government hasn’t sought proactive help of the military
yet, when the National Institute of Health is headed by a Major General.
Countries like India, Canada and United States have all used their military
bases for quarantine facilities; both the UK and the US are relying on their
armies to set up field hospitals. But the Pakistan government has no clear
policy for its army either. Downplaying the severity of coronavirus seems to be
the only strategy here.
countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran have banned group prayers in
mosques. But in Pakistan, the Friday Jumma prayers will likely continue.
Despite the warning that Pakistan could be following in Italy’s footsteps if
public gatherings aren’t avoided, there is no push from the government to ban
these large congregations. Instead, Punjab CM Sardar Usman Buzdar is meeting
Ulema and assuring them that mosques won’t be closed. Shia clerics have vowed
to continue their religious gatherings and shrine visits, because according to
them, congregations heal people, not infect them.
cleric Muhammad Ashraf Asif Jalali is confident of holding an All Pakistan
Sunni conference in Lahore on March 21: “No one can get sick except as per the
will of God. If anyone gets infected with coronavirus due to our conference,
then (the Pakistan government) should hang me.” That’s coronavirus 101 for us
Minister Pervez Khattak confidently declared that coronavirus is under control
in Pakistan, because the government had banned all public gatherings and
political rallies. He said this while addressing one such ‘banned’ public rally
in Nowshera. Now we know how ‘under control’ coronavirus is in Pakistan.
and Desi Remedies
one PTI minister, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, who is telling us that coronavirus is
god’s punishment just like disabled children are the punishment for the misdeed
of their parents.
minister has also promised to beat coronavirus like we beat terrorism in
Pakistan. Now how many decades that would take, he didn’t mention.
Health Organization (WHO) advisory is to test, test and test. PM Imran Khan’s
advisory is: don’t run to the hospital for tests, just sit at home and wash
your hands. Yes, prevention is important, and the biggest weapon against
coronavirus we have, but it can’t substitute testing. Two months late for the
awareness campaign too, as many think.
leaders are looking at ways to treat, cure or take precaution against
coronavirus but it is only Imran Khan who wants Pakistan’s debt written off.
All in the garb of coronavirus. He is telling the world that Pakistan won’t
have money if the situation goes out of hand and yet he is funding ventures at home
for his own self-promotion. How does that work in a health emergency? It wants
to beg the world but when asked to be part of SAARC on COVID-19, it goes in the
‘Kashmir Banega Pakistan’ mode. That too on the shoulders of health advisor
Zafar Mirza, whose is accused of smuggling 20 million face masks.
comes to desi remedies for curing coronavirus, Balochistan CM Jam Kamal Khan
has been kind to share forwarded-as-received corona cure: Gargle with salt and
vinegar. His photoshopped image of leading a meeting on coronavirus is reason
enough to take his high stature seriously.
social distancing, Fawad Chaudhry has the last word: “Human are not programmed
for Quarantine and our dependence on each other is a precondition of Society
and life, Isolation is only a very short term measure, salvation of human race
depends on Science and Scientists how quickly they can respond to challenge
what we would do if Chaudhry hadn’t given us this earth-shattering information.
Inayat is a freelance journalist from Pakistan.
Headline: Why Pakistan is the most chilled out in a world hit by coronavirus
Source: The Print