Coronavirus, a playground for politics
It is very pathetic that political leaders of opposition parties instead of lending unflinching support to the government in its fight against containing the spread of coronavirus have made this human tragedy a playground of political maneuvering and point scoring in their joint media talk. They described Prime Minister’s address to nation asking the people to observe health advisory and social distancing as disappointing, devoid of any action plan and depicting miserly approach to spend national resources on protecting people from coronavirus infection.
Towering political figures including Ahsan Iqbal, Mushahid Hussain, Liaqat Baluch, Sherry Rehman, Maulana Abdul Ghagoor Haideri and Mayam Aurngzeb appear to be unaware of live Press Conference of the British Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street on the spread of corona virus and plan of its containment. The theme and contents of the Press Conference of Prime of the UK and address of Pakistan’s Prime Minister were largely identical. The point scoring opposition leaders of Pakistan must bear in mind that UK has one of best health service system and social security net in the world but its political leadership is urging the people to go for self-isolation and adhere to social distancing.
In his press conference last night, British Prime Minister Boris Jhonson urged people to stay at home and advised 1.3 million people, who are at risk of coronavirus, not going out of their homes. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has asked the people to heed this advice. Earlier he had hinted at calling the retired doctors and nurses for duty for treatment of infected people, if needed. The treatment for ordinary diseases seeking abroad opposition leaders in Pakistan should have attentively listen this sentence of British Prime Minister that 1 million plus ventilators are available but the country may need more of this equipment. In Pakistan, there are 2500 ventilators because all elected government in the past criminally neglected investment in healthcare system to expand and improve its infrastructure.
Boris Jhonson has called on has called on the public to join a “collective national effort” and follow social distancing guidelines, warning that National Health Service could be overwhelmed. He said , ” It is really a simple rule and incredibly important, because to protect life and National Health Service we need to stop the spread of this virus by coming into close contact with other.” When the same advice was given by Prime Minister Imran Khan, opposition leaders gave vent to their spleen by unjustly criticising him, ignoring their track record of bad governance, corruption and money laundering.
Pervious feudal oligarchy and mercantile classes run elected government left the only quarantine facility at Karachi, dysfunctional and research infrastructure of National Health Laboratories in shambles and government hospitals in dilapidated condition. No facility of virology worth the name was in place at premises of National Health Laboratories. Credit must be given to PTI government for setting up 13 quarantine centers, field hospitals, importing coronavirus test kits and facilitating their production in the country and setting up virology lab.
Interestingly, PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar has asked the government to be generous and spend national resources on war against coronavirus and protect the lives of poor people. Doesn’t he know that bulk of the cash resources are devoured by shady power sector agreements of PPP and PML-N governments including power purchaser agreements with IPPs and LNG import agreement with Qatar? It is strange that he is talking about poor people as the last PPP government legislation titled Gas Infrastructure Development Cess of December 2011 has enabled fertilizers companies to earn hefty profits and has reduced farmers to paupers. The top leadership of his party is facing trial in mega money laundering case. Money laundering by previous ruling political elite was one of the major factors responsible for putting Pakistan twice on greylist of FATF. Perhaps he has not read the text of the letter sent the other day by Senator Rehman Malik, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior, to this global watchdog on curbing money laundering and terrorism financing. In that letter he has drawn the attention of FATF President Marshall Billingslea about the precarious economic situation in the country and requested him to remove Pakistan’s name from greylist to enable it to use its meager resources against the pandemic. Opposition leaders’ attitude on this human tragedy can be summed up in this famous saying. “When you dance with the devil, you reveal his breath.”