close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
March 24, 2020

Political unity: good omen

Islamabad

March 24, 2020

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, later during the last week, made an incredible policy decision of the PPP when he declared that no ‘political and ideological differences’ would be allowed to come in the way of the government policy focused on in overcoming the national challenge posed by the Covid-19. He further reiterated the urgency of formulating collective political response on Saturday last because no province has the resources and the expertise to cope with the increasingly alarming situation single-handedly. It was not easy for him in the face of the witch hunting against the co-chairman of the PPP and his aunt including other stalwarts. But leader of substance does not take into account the vendetta and malice into account when the vision is focused to mitigate the sufferings of the people as a national challenge. Chairman Bilawal knew the devastating potential of the pandemic and therefore decided to support the government considering it as the only way to get the nation out of the woes wrapped in the coronavirus outbreak. His statesmanlike conduct undoubtedly has the clear understanding when and where to draw the line between the imperatives of the national politics and other forms of politics.

His heart-warming initiative also invoked the desirable response of the other major Party PML-N that also declared its support for the government’s policy arguing that united response was the need of the hour. The JUI-F, an arch rival of the PTI government, also followed the same spirit. The prime minister meanwhile asked the Speaker to get in touch with other parties to constitute All Parties Parliamentary Committee to formulate consensus based strategy to overcome the challenge because the political unity would strengthen the hands of the government to cope with the fast obtaining dangerous situation due to the Covid-19. The Speaker of the Assembly is likely to get the names of the members of the Opposition parties sooner than later. The Opposition will surely extend its helping hand when national emergency warrants so. The return of the Opposition leader may further generate the momentum in favour of the collective and measured response.

The belated to the nation of the prime minister after the meeting of the National Security Council seemingly shifted the major onus of responsibility of fighting out the menace on the people of Pakistan instead of the government. The optics of the speech might be deemed as mismatch. The cliché of “gabrana nahin”do not panic, may not be enough to boost the morale of the people unless it was followed by the comprehensive workable strategy to deal with the emerging situation that may cost large number of lives of the people if mandarins and the institutional inertia were not replaced by pro-active approach. It might be deemed as demoralising part of the speech in which the prime minister told the nation that the government alone could not meet the challenge and the nation had to be in the forefront to meet the challenges of the pandemic. It was understood and the prime minister’ underscoring its importance might have given the impression of the government‘s lack of confidence to overcome the challenge. The speech was seemingly riddled with the pitfalls of the pandemic rather than reflecting the firm resolves of the government to defeat the menace thoroughly and comprehensively. The resolve of the government should have been reflected like this, financial constraints would not be allowed to prevail upon what may come when lives of the countrymen were at stake.

There is dire need to engage the people like the Singapore prime minister recently spoke to the people while sitting on simple chair without any table thus giving the impression as if he was one of them sitting with them. The optics of his face to face talking to the people explaining as what the government had achieved in this regard and what are the plans those would be implemented as and when the new situation emerged. Prime Minister Imran Khan may also visits the hospitals or the quarantine centers frequently to see the medical treatment given to the patients holding out assurance at the same time that the government would not abandon them no matter what. The cascade of such assurances followed by reiterations may surely serve as morale booster of the people to get them out of the state of hopelessness.

The prime minister in his address to the nation on the coronavirus pandemic could not mention the successful endeavors of the Sindh government led by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. The reason best known to him. The stature of the prime minister might have been risen in the eyes of all if he had pated the Sindh chief minister for his good work in his speech being the prime minister of Pakistan. But his oblivion either by design or default might not have been endorsed by the people at large. His appreciation of the chief minister would have surely upped his credentials as the prime minister of Pakistan. We have not seen such words yet.

However, the prime minister’s appeal to write off the loans of the poor countries enabling them to thwart the menace was timely equating with when push comes to shove. It may have positive impact on the policy planners of the lender countries as they are cognizant of the scale of challenge while grappling to tackle the situation on their own soils. The World Bank and the Asian development Bank last week reportedly approved more than $500 million for Pakistan meant to build its capacity to meet the challenge of the pandemic. Ideally, it should have been grant because this country is already burdened under the debt trap of grotesque proportion. However, this substantial amount may surely strengthen the hands of the government that may have been near impossible without it.

The other point of his advocacy for the lifting of sanctions on Iran was quite relevant. The Iranian foreign minister later in the week also appealed to the world community to come forward as the US crippling sanctions were impeding the country’s ability to deal with the virus that had unleashed cascade of havocs. The country could not buy the medicines and the equipment those were absolutely necessary to nip the evil of coronavirus in the bud. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while responding to a question on Saturday last clarified that there were no sanctions on Iran related to the humanitarian assistance. However, it may be appropriate if the US may lift the sanctions because millions of lives are at stake in Iran. The US administration may offer humanitarian assistance to Iran to earn the appreciations of the people right across the world. The geo-politics may take back seat because humanitarian considerations are above all other preferences. The US administration may now demonstrate in sync with its history and traditions as the greatest champion of human rights and human lives.

Coronavirus has indeed shaken the world’s social, economic, health and business as usual orders within the shortest span of time. There is bloodbath in stock exchange markets around the world. According to the Pakistan Advisor on Finance, Dr Hafeez Shaikh, the world had suffered around $350 billion losses since the outbreak of coronavirus. The lockdown in the USA, UK, Italy, France and other developed countries with exponential spike in unemployment as collateral has upset the policy planners who are relentlessly engaged in as how to cope with the fast deteriorating situation posing credible threat of multiple nature. The menace has shaken the sole superpower forcing it to take extraordinary measures like the promulgation of Defence Production Act in its desperate attempt to stem the pandemic. As such, it may not be difficult to imagine the dangerous situation the other countries may be facing those fall in the index of developing and under developed countries. More than 188 countries reportedly have already been facing the head on the menace those may not be able to meet the challenges in the wake of full throttled pandemic. The entire world has been living under the shadow of acute fear of the coronavirus since the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared World Health Emergency.

Pakistan is no exception as the virus is spreading exponentially. The government’s belated action after realising its severity to the fullest extent may wishfully not take its toll. It has spread almost all over the world and its intensity is on the rise with every passing day. In Pakistan, the tally of the effected persons crosses over seven hundred and still rising. The cases of the virus infection in Pakistan are due to the thousands of Pakistani who have travelled to Iran to visit shrines there. The pathetic arrangements at Pak-Iran boarder, Taftan, aggravated the situation because the quarantine of the devotees was both ineffective and indeed meaningless. The state of affairs can be easily figured out after viewing the social media videos depicting the horrendous sight as the people were housed in a way without an iota of consideration of isolation presenting ideal conditions for the spread of the virus. God may help Pakistan!

[email protected]