Monday November 28, 2022

Bearing the burden of bad decisions

June 01, 2020

Consequences of some wrong decisions befall large parts of populations in a big way and in coronavirus scenario we have witnessed this ugly reality very closely.

In addition to a large number of victim doctors and journalists, Rawalpindi has five of its police SHOs infected by the virus and counting. These are omens of very grim situation. It seems that confusion and controversies about this pandemic were created on purpose and as a result citizens of Rawalpindi and Islamabad are among the worst hit people.

The whole idea of lifting lockdown was premised on the presumption that public order will prevail in markets and on roads. No rationale was out there to substantiate the presumption as we have never been known to keep order. In normal days, it has always been hard for the police to keep order in cities given their weak strength and lack of facilities required.

To maintain order for prevention of spread of pandemic necessitates special expertise and protection gear. The concept of physical distancing is new to police and public. The disease has become a symbol of stress, petrifying many potential suspects.

As a result, corona suspects and patients try not to be confined in quarantines. Incidents have been reported where they fled the quarantines, guarded by police. But all of them did not succeed and had close contact with police. Similarly, the police were deputed at public and worship places where they struggled with the people to keep safe distance.

In these struggles, they came in close contact with corona carriers and got infected. Same is the story of doctors, paramedics and journalists. But they could have been protected against the pandemic had the government made right decisions and proper arrangements. The choice was obvious – saving human lives or running business. The government’s tilt was towards business and misplaced notions of smart and partial lockdowns were marketed.

Rawalpindi has one of the best of city administrators in the person of Deputy Commissioner Captain Anwaarul Haq but the administrators have already been stretched out to cosmic proportions.

Being available to public 24/7 and dealing with unprecedented chaos and disorder is an addition to the extended workload the administrators are supposed to carry in normal days.

The farce of Tiger Force was created and the masses were given to believe that they will be self-motivated kind of super humans who will fix all problems and heal ailing humanity. But in reality, this Force was heavily politicized, not least in Rawalpindi, and from day one it is generating many controversies. They did what such groups do best – political point scoring. Regional Police Officer (RPO) Dr Tajik Sohail Habib told ‘The News’ that five out of 30 SHOs of Rawalpindi police have fallen sick. “They were operational staff and it will have tough consequences as the active police force is getting affected,” he said.

“People are confused. They must be educated that corona is a reality and not a conspiracy,” he said. On a model for Pakistan to follow, he said, “We have actively enforced all precautions in Murree. Other cities may follow it.” At the end of the day, the efforts of city administrators and police need to be connected with political force and civil society to acquire results. Decisions like lifting lockdown should not be taken in isolation so that they do not backfire as they have now.