Covid and Pakistan, a look at its preparedness.

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Coronavirus Mask

The coronavirus has brought many changes in the world. From collapsing some of the best healthcare systems in the US and Italy because of their ill-preparedness to countries like India that seem to handle the situation due to timely preparations and an active government that is working cohesively with its state counterparts. India currently has around 3.1 death rate due to this virus as compared to some of the hard hit nations like USA, Italy, Spain that have it more than 4 percent. Despite setbacks like the Tablighi Jamaat that has been responsible for the huge spike in the cases, India still manages to handle the number of cases and time will tell how the strategy of the Modi government has been effective.

Quite the contrary, India’s neighbor, Pakistan has gone to a complete opposite direction. It’s strategy is so bizarre and foolish that you might just think it’s a cruel joke being played with their citizens. In March, when most of the countries were getting ready to tackle the coronavirus , Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan said the following-

“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 ( Source – https://nation.com.pk/17-Mar-2020/not-to-panic-says-pm-imran )

Sindh remains the worst affected province with cases currently going beyond 1000 in the state. Most officials highlight that travelers, especially from Iran contracted the virus and were not treated or screened well. Pilgrims had come from Iran to Taftan in Balochistan and were kept in makeshift tents with no isolation measures taken and had to access to unhygienic toilets. This is a short glimpse of how the Pakistani establishment planned to screen their citizens.

Pakistan’s commitment is defined by this next incident, their president Alvi visiting China during the Covid crisis and shaking his hands without a shadow of a doubt that many experts have warned not to do that. He is more than 60 years old as well. You can imagine that if one head of their state is doing this to support the country that has been responsible for spreading the virus to the world, one can imagine how serious they seem to be. Pakistan states that it is taking inspiration from China and its methods to contain and curtail the movement of individuals to reduce any community spread of the virus. While China had locked down Hubei and Wuhan until the situation didn’t turn different, Pakistan still has not stopped the Friday prayers from happening and many of their clerics actually believe that these religious gatherings have the power to cure them from this virus. Recently, their Defence minister stated that the virus is under control because the government has ordered a lockdown of cities and banned all rallies and gatherings. He was delivering this statement in one such “ banned “ rally in Nowshera. Another minister in the Imran Khan cabinet has said that this is God’s punishment on humanity. The Pakistani Prime Minister can casually try to distract their problem and make fun of how the Indian PM apologized for the inconvenience caused by the lockdown while his ministers give their expert opinion about the virus. One of them even goes on to say that they will beat the virus just like they beat terrorism. If they manage to create mujhadeens within the virus then that would probably be some achievement to ponder about.

If this wasn’t enough for you then let’s go on the economic situation. There is no denial that almost all economies will have a slow growth and the world potentially faces a danger of a recession worse than 2008 and 1929. But Pakistan was already in a hot soup prior to covid and had taken many loans to help sustain itself. It seems Imran Khan is now using covid to request a debt waiver, saying that Pakistan won’t have enough money to fight the cases if they reach 4000. He has even filed for a loan from the world bank. Despite criticism at home by his rivals of his expenditure in firms for self – promotion, Imran Khan has firmly spoken about the impending doom of his nation and shown us that even in dire circumstances, he will still come looking for an aid from your moolah. Experts have already warned that Pakistan might just hit recession in this crisis.

But wait, that’s not all, there is more..

Zafar Mirza, the health advisor of Imran Khan’s government, who had raised the issue of Kashmir during the SAARC virtual conference on tackling covid is now accused for smuggling 20 million face masks. Societies across the world have had a huge problem in managing necessities that can help people tackle this virus and you have a government head doing this kind of an activity. POK has seen activity by the Pakistani authorities which are not being able to provide enough essentials to the people there and are shifting covid positive patients to camps in Mirpur. Since Sunday , the Pakistani Army has been constantly firing at Indian border posts and intelligence reports have highlighted various bids to infiltrate inside the border. While the UN has called for a unilateral ceasefire to tackle this epidemic, Pakistan just seems to to ignore that, ignore the their country’s performance with covid and keep beating the bush over Kashmir.

It’s no surprise considering the extent of tomfoolery by the Imran Khan government , the Supreme Court of Pakistan has pulled up the state government and have demanded the removal of Zafar Mirza for his inability to handle the crisis and with charges of smuggling face masks on him. The government has tried to defend but this itself shows the extent of crisis within the Pakistani establishment as the judiciary has berated and stated that the government has done nothing at all to tackle the situation. Despite the government pointing out some steps that they have taken, the issue remains in the same way.

If you felt that the government was the only culprit here, think again. Even some of their citizens have done much to show that they are not very well with understanding how a virus of this nature needs a collective effort. Many Hindus and Christians in Pakistan have highlighted how they’re being neglected and ostracized in the country because of their minority status and with some of them working as cleaners or helpers having being removed from their respective workplaces in the fear that they might spread the virus.

Nothing could be more dehumanizing and disgusting than this. While across countries, governments and their citizens acknowledge the role of these public servants, Pakistan has shown how the other side looks.

On the 11th of April, hundreds of Pakistani citizens in Dubai protested outside the Pakistani embassy, demanding to be taken home and accusing of ignorance by the Imran Khan administration. Experts have warned that if more restraint is not taken, cases can touch 50,000 and completely overhaul their medical system. But Pakistan, for better or for worse will not relent or perhaps make a concerned effort to fight this virus more seriously or properly until the situation gets grim.

Here is hoping that doesn’t happen. But knowing Pakistan, there is not much you can hope for.

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