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July 21, 2020

Ominous threat or bushfires


July 21, 2020

Indeed heartening for the people of Pakistan that the federal government Minister, Asad Umar, has appreciated the successes of the PPP-led Sindh governments as well in containing the pandemic during the meeting of (NCOC) held in Karachi on last Saturday. Such cooperation and coordination among the provinces under the auspices of federal government is the dire need to stem the rot that has been posing the existential threat since early this year. The Opposition parties in general have been urging the federal government to build up political consensus to be followed by the formulation of robust strategy to save the lives of the countrymen. It may be appreciated that the better sense has finally prevailed upon the belligerence, hopefully on sustainable basis. These are not times for political scoring but saving the lives of the people. It should be the top priority. Digging in heels only to serve the ego-centric political alacrities at the expense of lives may be deemed hugely misplaced if not condemnable.

Director General (WHO) Tedros’ warning to the world, ‘the coronavirus pandemic is going to be worse and worse and worse’ if the world does not stand up to thwart fast approaching ominous threat to humans lives. The resultant havoc of staggering proportion may not be difficult to imagine except by those who are relentlessly engaged in reducing a mountain into a molehill. Emboldened by trivial political considerations, they have been giving damn to the sanctity of human life. The explicit meaning of (WHO) Chief’s words, with moistened eyes, has unequivocal warning that simply cannot be wished away. The international community may not afford laxity anymore as it is about to knock the door to inflict fatal blow on the inmates eerily in the prevailing environment of fear and gloom. The prolonging of the inertia of the major countries of the world not to foresee and forestall the reckless advances of the COVID-19 may surely activate the virus to take revenge on human lives. The state of fear and helplessness among the people, attributed to the indecisiveness of the international community, may not offer them surcease that is desperately needed to calm them down in the midst of fear and horror that has gripped the whole world.

The WHO director general’s candid and unequivocal warning leaves no room for complacency. It warrants the international community to spring into action collectively and holistically without the second thought. Billions of lives are at stake notwithstanding pandemic’s devastating consequences to the world economy that may well surpass by big margin to the 1930 World Great Recession. Indeed, the whole world order is teetering on the edge. The world leader’s tone deaf attitude of not realizing the magnitude of the looming threat is frightening sending shivers to the spine. Thus far, many a world leaders have underestimated the COVID-19 menace by describing it as any other disease that has been killing more people than the prevalent pandemic. Their argument is miserably flawed so their knowledge of the COVID-19. It is beyond comprehension to presume they are oblivious of the fact that there is no treatment of the infection yet though scientists have been sparing no effort to come out with the vaccine at the earliest.

Politicians’ domestic political compulsions are surely pushing them to call the inferno as mere bushfires here and there with little consequences. Their seemingly chasing red herring to deflect the attention may fall in the domain of criminal negligence. Doing politics over the lives of their own people cannot be given even an iota of allowance. Such club of world leaders should be taken to task and reviled.

Nothing could be more hostile to the people than misleading them by pleading false security narrative, or berating the threat level contrary to the scientific studies. The US President Trump is seemingly quite conspicuous in this count as he has been relentlessly selling this narrative without remorse and indeed continuing. He is surely focused to win second term of US presidential elections without assigning the due regards to the legitimacy of the means. For this, he is quite capable of going at the brink of unimaginable. No wonder the politicians do make tall promises during the election campaign to win elections which is quite normal. But treading on something out of extraordinary, having injurious bearings on public health of the citizens, is not acceptable by any criterion of politics.

The US President Trump‘s handling of the pandemic in the US has been largely rejected by the American people according to the latest surveys conducted there. This is the peoples’ indictment suggesting the surge of the infection in the country is due to the confused and mismatched policies of the administration.

The president’s assertion that he was using the hydroxychloroquine was in a way hoodwinking the people to take plunge to fight the virus. The medical experts sniffed off the president’s claim adding the use of the medicine was injurious to the heart patients in particular. How naïve is the president who could suggest the people to use the particular medicine without its scientific basis.

He even stated that he was using the medicine. It was acutely inappropriate on the part of the president to underrate the threat of COVID-19. His declaration of suspension of the US contribution of $500M to WHO amid the pandemic spoke volumes of the chemistry of his statesmanship.

In Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan, also considered the pandemic as a mere ‘flue’ and people should not worry much about it adding there was no need to take stringent measures like lockdown. The prime minister had been persistent in his advocacy of the narrative that the country could not afford to enforce complete lockdown because the large number of people would die due to hunger and starvation than the virus. As the virus infections continued to spread exponentially the provincial governments, Sindh government was already in the mode, imposed lockdown in the respective provinces as a desperate measure to contain the infection. From the day one when pandemic spread its tentacles early this year via Iran the prime minister continued to harp on the same mantra of no lockdown resulting in confusion and people took it lightly.

The government also allowed the religious gatherings with apparent understanding of observance of the so called SOPs those were flouted everywhere with impunity. The result was massive surge of infections after Eid. Now, the government has forewarned the people to be careful during the coming Eid and Moharrum failing which the past aftermaths may revisit with much fury. It seems that the government has put the entire responsibility on the shoulders of the people and has assumed the role of onlooker than the strong arm of enforcement agency .The half-hearted policy may have slim chances of producing the desired results.

The virus, undoubtedly, poses dire threat to human civilization. It may not be deemed as reading too much between the lines of the WHO director general in the recent past. However, there is an urgent need of the world leaders to huddle together with sincerity and sense of purpose to formulate comprehensive and robust strategy without losing more time. It may be treated as the (World War) against the COVID-19 that has gripped it in its talons with the intent to drop it down from the high altitude to kill all. The threat must be decimated before it wreaks havoc on the physiology of human life on this living planet. Pandemic must not be allowed to break loose to unfold hell to burn us alive.

The hungry and invisible beast with infinite appetite to consume human lives must be humiliated and forced to eat its own flesh. The virus’ juggernaut to penetrate into our defence mechanism must be stopped comprehensively and thoroughly. TS Eliot’s prophetic and literary immensely valuable but heart-numbing observation: ‘This is the way the world ends, not with bang, but a whimper’ may not prove true this time and indeed during all the times to come.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres earnest appeal to the warlords and countries’ proxies deserves serious consideration to observe seize fire so that the menace of contagion could be tackled in an enabling and peaceful environment. How ironic that his appeal seems to have fallen on deaf ears of the fighting groups whose sense of proportion has been muddied beyond redemption.

In Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and other conflict zones the fighting is going on as usual without paying heed to the UN Secretary General‘s appeal to stop fighting to save lives of people of all ages, especially children, elderly and women in the crossfire. This opportunity should not go waste and the warring leaders and their protagonists must re-evaluate the request of the Secretary General that was meant to incapacitate the common enemy, COVID-19. It thrives on killings humans. ‘Beware the ideas of March’.

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